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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Miscellaneous

Indian Car Industry Expected to Grow 25%

On: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:50AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Indian Auto Industry test 2

According to a late May report published on BS Motoring, “The passenger vehicle industry is poised to record another good month in May, at an estimated 25 per cent growth in sales vis-à-vis the same month last year. This came on the back of a low base, revival in demand and a larger number of models compared to the same period last year. However, the absolute numbers are likely to be slightly lower than in April, when the industry registered its highest-ever growth of 33.9 per cent, at 1,82,182 units, in a decade.”

So indeed, as you can see, even in April the industry recorded its highest growth ever, in the history of auto-making. Hardly something that you would say is a decline, or stunted growth. So it does look like the carmakers are really pushing to get new cars and used cars on the road as more consumers recover from the recession, and finally undo those belts that they have had so tight over the past few years in order to meet their monthly obligations. In short: More people are buying more new cars, and that’s a really good thing!

In the same BS Motoring report, Vishnu Mathur (the director-general of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers) projects the sales boom to keep going, “With new emission norms and the confusion pertaining to it, there have been fluctuations in sales in May and we expect the sales would be the same or slightly lower than April. However, it will continue to be significantly higher than May last year and we expect the growth momentum to continue.”

The industry for new cars and used cars in India looks pretty good, too. According to Arvind Saxena, the director of sales and marketing at Hyundai Motor India, who stated in the same BS Motoring report that, “We should see mid double-digit growth in May, with the i10 and i20 being in great demand.”

And growth for GM is looking up as well in India. P Balendran, the vice-president of GM India explained in the same article on BS Motoring that, “While the wholesale numbers would be the same or slightly lower than April, retail sales are expected to be higher, as companies are offering discounts on several models.”

GM projects that they will have sold around 8,000 units, in India during the month of May.

The Camera Never Lies

On: Wed, Jun 2, 2010 at 9:28AM | By: Clay Ritchings

The Camera Never Lies test 1-1

While officials in Europe and the United States insist that "the camera never lies," motorists around the world are receiving automated tickets for crimes that they did not commit. Evidently parked cars are triggering the speed cameras and nobody is reviewing the bogus violations before licking the stamp and dropping notices in the mail. This is a breakdown of the whole automated ticket system. The system is only as good as people who have been hired to review the violations, and by the looks of the following reports, they are not being reviewed at all, or by someone who is visually impaired. Could it be that these private companies, like many others, will keep payroll down and run lean? I can only imagine that after an extensive four-minute board meeting, and before they headed out the door for a round of golf, the red light camera suits probably went to each employee and said, “Hey, John Q. Employee, instead of monitoring two cameras at once, you are now going to have four… do the best you can.” If this does not infuriate you yet, read on…

Driver's Re-Ed

On: Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 1:22PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Driver's Re-Ed test 1-1

The list of standard safety features on today’s even most basic car models would have sounded like a spaceship from a science fiction story only a generation or two ago.  Adaptive cruise control?  Check.  Anti-lock braking system?  Blind spot detection?  Check.  Side curtain airbags?  Check.  Lane-departure warning?  Yes.  Rearview camera?  Go.  Accident avoidance system?  Roger.  

Car companies have done an amazing job at making automobiles much safer, but despite their best efforts they have not yet been able to solve the biggest threat to driving safety:  The driver.  There is a flawed inference almost everyone is a victim of.  Although cars are the safest they have ever been, driving is not safer, and in fact, has never been more dangerous.  Road speeds are higher, population and road congestion have increased exponentially, and people are more distracted than ever with the need for immediate responses to phone calls, emails, and text messages.  

With that thought, I’d like to suggest two ideas.  One that has been talked about, or at least thought about by almost anyone that has ever been slowly cut off by a senior citizen drifting listlessly into their lane on the interstate.  The second is quite a bit more radical.  Both of these occurred to me a moment or two after I was nearly killed the other day by a very inattentive driver on Route One in my home state of New Jersey.  As I slammed on my brakes and swerved out of the way of an Audi whose driver did not feel it was necessary to check for oncoming traffic before he blew through a stop sign, I realized a few things.  The first is that I want to live.  The second was that had my car been made several decades earlier, I probably wouldn’t have been alive to have a third thought.

Harmon Kardon Climbing Back on Top as Car Sales Revive

On: Tue, Jun 1, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Harmon Kardon test 2

When you first step foot—or sit—inside one of the many very fine luxury cars that are out there these days, many people don’t think of the audio system that is in that car. In fact, I would be willing to bet that most people who drive these cars don’t even know that Harmon Kardon makes audio systems for some pretty fancy rides. Cars like BMWs, Audis, and Mercedes-Benz; to name a few. According to a recent report published on Barrons, “Sales of audio and other equipment to auto makers such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi account for 70% of the company's sales.”

If you could—because I know that I certainly would—would you choose to drive a luxury car? If, say, money were no object, would you desire that feature-loaded ride with a voice-activated audio system that interfaces with an MP3 transmitter to your iPod and even docks it while you drive? Or one with a touch screen Harmon Kardon GPS navigation system that will always get you where you are going safe and sound? For certain these things can be easily added to any car; you can just buy them and install them. But if you ask me, features like the Harmon Audio and GPS systems are staples that really make such luxury cars like BMWs, Audis, Mercedes-Benz, and others in the pack really stand out.

And Harmon—while showing dismal numbers recently, and falling stocks—is not going anywhere soon. Indeed, rather, it's quite the opposite. The company is on a strong track for success. And here is why.


Prepare To Be Annoyed: A Guide To Holiday Driving

On: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 1:59PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Prepare To Be Annoyed This Weekend test 2

Memorial Day weekend is upon us and felt that I needed to get something off my chest. Maybe I am writing this because I am truly concerned for all the people who are going to pack up their cars and head out on the road to visit friends and family for the weekend—or was it the idiot driver who cut me off this morning near Dunkin Donuts on Bartow Highway and then proceeded to run his mouth and give me the finger?

Yes, Civic boy, I am the guy you flipped the bird; if this happened 15 years ago, a chase and a prompt beating would have ensued, followed by the desecration of your little car's manhood attached to the trunk. However, I have learned patience since then… Thank you, to the young punk in the Silver Civic with the aftermarket wing attached to the trunk lid like an automotive tumor; thank you, for making this post possible. Oh, and by the way, that wing works only if your car can do 100 mph—and by the look at the pile you are driving it would rattle apart before you reached the threshold…Just FYI.

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, the traditional start of the summer driving season. With gas prices trending downwards, the annual family road-trip vacation in the Family Truckster could be making a comeback this year. So I have come up with a few things to make the roads a tad better this holiday weekend, and maybe some of the habits will stick around the rest of the year.

Grand Am Gears Up For Busiest Week Of The Season

On: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 11:26AM | By: John Welch

Grand Am Gears Up For Busiest Week Of The Season test 1-1

After four weeks of heel cooling and relaxation, the Grand-Am Series revs back up this weekend, at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. The Lime Rock circuit has never hosted a Grand-Am event; series regulars are excited about the opportunity to race at the historic venue. Scott Pruett, Ganassi/BMW Racing driver: "I feel it's going to be a unique opportunity for everyone. It's a one-day event, which means as a team you have to be ready to roll right when you come off the truck - and the Ganassi team continually shows a lot of ability in that respect."

How’s this for a crammed schedule: The teams practice, qualify and race on Monday. After the race, they will pack up and head straight to New York for the Sahlens 6 Hour at Watkins Glen. The next weekend. Yikes.

That race, a six-hour endurance race at the famed Watkins Glen course, will feature star power in the form of Hendrick Motorsport's Jimmie Johnson. More on that next week; right now we are focusing on the Connecticut farmland and Lime Rock Park. This race at the 1.5 mile Lime Rock circuit will be a one-day event. Practice begins at 9 a.m. ET, with qualifying at 11:55 a.m. and the green flag waving around 2 p.m.

Toyota Denied Request to Dismiss Dispute Regarding Hybrid Technology

On: Fri, May 28, 2010 at 9:01AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Denied Request to Dismiss Dispute Regarding Hybrid Technology test 1-1

“When it rains it pours.” It seems like that should be Toyota’s new slogan as Toyota Motor Corporation lost its bid to dismiss a Florida company’s patent infringement claim.  Worst case scenario could result in the Japanese automaker being prohibited from importing its most recent model hybrids and top sellers; the Prius and Camry and Lexus Hybrids.

The Supreme Court let stand an appeal by Toyota in a $4.3 million dollar lawsuit by Paice LLC of McLean, Virginia (Paice is an acronym for Power-Assisted Internal Combustion Engines). Last year, a federal appeals court also sided with Paice. Toyota appealed but has now lost in a patent infringement case affecting their hybrid synergy system. Toyota may have to start paying Paice royalties of $25 for every Prius, Highlander Hybrid, and Lexus RX 400h sold.

Ford Preparing To Ax Mercury

On: Thu, May 27, 2010 at 5:07PM | By: John Welch

Ford Preparing To Ax Mercury test 1-1

The American Car Company graveyard might get a little larger soon; it looks like Ford is getting ready to give Mercury the "'Ole Yeller" soon. Allan Mullaly made it clear when he took the reigns at Ford, that he would emphasize one premier brand, Ford, and would eventually wind down extraneous brands Lincoln and Mercury. According to sources, the automaker's top executives are preparing a proposal to kill Mercury to be presented to directors in July. Mercury is already losing two of its models next year, leaving it with a serious product drought.

The plan hinges on Ford's ability to convince Lincoln/Mercury dealers to close or consolidate with existing Ford dealerships, a negotiation that could get rocky. No dealer wants to give up his franchise. Unfortunately for them, this plan falls right in line with Ford's other cost cutting measures, namely the elimination of small-niche European brands like Volvo and Jaguar. With the Euro-pudge trimmed, Mullaly is now turning his attention to Ford's North American fat.

The Evolution Of The SUV

On: Thu, May 27, 2010 at 11:53AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Chevy Nomad test 2

During the depression, farmers borrowed money from local banks to purchase their work trucks for use on the farm, but bankers would not loan them the money needed to purchase personal family vehicles. Subsequently, an Australian farmer’s wife once made a suggestion that Ford Motor Company design a vehicle that would be able to function to work on the farm and then transport the family on the week-ends in an automobile that was more stylish and comfortable than a truck.

Ford responded to the request from the farmer’s wife, and hired designer, Lewis Bandt who created a prototype of such a vehicle, and in 1934, a Ford plant in Geelong, Australia produced the first 500 models of an automobile that would eventually evolved into the Sports Utility Vehicle or SUV. Historically automakers attempted to design new four-wheel drive vehicles in a variety of different manifestation since the inception of gasoline powered engines.

Ford Recruits Virtual Factory Worker

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 5:10PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Recruits Virtual Factory Worker test 1-1

Many manufacturers have implemented robotics to assist them in evaluating safe ergonomics for their employees, but Ford Motor Company has taken a step into the future as the company has recruited a virtual factory worker who can perform extraordinary feats.

He even has a name: Santos. Santos is a very unusual virtual worker in that he can decide to perform a task autonomously such as; walking, talking, and even answering questions when asked. His programming was designed to simulate the same movements and restrictions that humans encounter, and to enable the robot to record physical limits when he is working, such as how far he can reach, or how much weight he can lift, or to record when the simulated human body becomes fatigued.

Top Gear US: Here They Come!

On: Wed, May 26, 2010 at 4:46PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Top Gear US: Here They Come! test 1-1

I have been a fan of Top Gear for some time now; as a matter of fact, it is one of my favorite shows. Beside the upscale production values, probably the best part of the show is the “challenges” and the interaction between the hosts while trying to accomplish them. Since the announcement “Top Gear is coming to the U.S. with its very own American cast” I have been doing a lot of reading through the related blogs. While I enjoy the light-hearted ribbing that the hosts poke at America, I was really surprised at the reactions on the blogs from the users.

Typical user comments like: “American roads are straight”—“American cars are rubbish”—“Reviewing American Cars would be dull”—“What happens when we have to make a right turn”—“who wants to see big, fat, ugly, gas-guzzling, sloppy fit, American cars & trucks”. These comments litter the forums and blogs that talk about their beloved show jumping the pond. What cracks me up is that the people posting these comments act as if they drive the cars featured on the Top Gear, when in reality; they are most likely driving a FORD. Think about it, Ford has been a top seller in Europe for many years, so it is likely that they are not driving to work in a Ferrari, Lambo or Lotus—more like a Fiesta or Focus. OK, maybe you’re driving a Jaguar…get under the car or hood and look around, you will see FoMoCo emblazoned everywhere.