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Kia's Conceptual, Four-Wheeled Bubble Coming to Paris

On: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 9:43AM | By: Chris Weiss

Kia's Conceptual, Four-Wheeled Bubble Coming to Paris test 1-1

Kia previewed a new mini urban commuter concept this week that it calls Pop. A fitting name since the car resembles a four-wheeled version of the Pop-O-Matic bubble that every kid and former kid will recognize from the game of Trouble. Look at it from the top and it's hard not to want to give it a lil' pop. The new zero-emissions concept will make its official debut at the Paris Motor Show in late September.

In the purple and silver preview pictures, we can see an odd, otherworldly contraption that sports a rounded, futuristic look. The concept features a bulbous windshield that extends into a glass roof panel and capsule-shaped side windows that look more space age than automotive. The lines on the side and low door handles indicate that the doors open upwards--something that would continue the theme of the concept's spacy look. Up front, the Pop has a rather insect-like appearance with its extended fenders taking on the look of antennae or pincers and its multi-light headlamps giving it fly-like eye balls.

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.

Ford Wins $31 Million SUV Rollover Case

On: Mon, Aug 23, 2010 at 9:34AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Wins $31 Million SUV Rollover Case test 1-1

In a recent appeals case, Ford Motor Co. won the 2006 lawsuit that involved a life-long debilitating brain injury suffered by a teenager, Jesse Branham, whose injuries resulted from a rollover accident in a Ford Bronco. The $31 million suit was brought against Ford by family members of the teenager.

The case was overturned after a Supreme Court judge found that the teen’s lawyers used evidence that was inadmissible. Evidence, such as a statement that Ford Motor Co. was fully aware that the SUV was defective and had a high probability of rolling over. The judge also shouldn’t have allowed Branham’s attorneys to offer evidence of Ford executives’ pay when seeking punitive damages against the automaker during the 2006 trial, the court said. “The admission of this evidence was error and highly prejudicial,” the state’s highest court said in an August 16 ruling.

Ronnie Crosby, a Hampton, South Carolina-based lawyer for the family stated: “We believe there is ample evidence to demonstrate the Bronco II is defective and unreasonably dangerous and we’re eager to present that evidence to another jury.” Marcey Evans, a spokeswoman for Dearborn, Michigan-based Ford, declined to comment.

JD Powers Forcasts 15% Sales Decrease for August

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

JD Powers Forcasts 15% Sales Decrease for August test 1-1

According to a recent J.D. Powers and Associates poll, the vehicle sales record for August is expected to decline from July’s numbers which were “relatively strong.” Total sales for light vehicles are expected to be down 15% from last August when numbers were high as a result of the “cash for clunkers” government incentive program. But numbers will remain above that of the selling rate from the first 6 months of 2010.

August sales are expected to be around 875,000 units, which, according to Automotive News, “represents a seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) of 8.9 million units.”
August sales are expected to diminish slightly from July's reported rate of 9.2 million units. These numbers represent the most accurate predictor of the demand for new cars in the country.

When analysts factor in the distortion rate from the “Cash for Clunkers” program, the actual numbers are up by 14% from August of 2009.


RedLine Time Attack 2010: Japanese Metal And Everything Else

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 3:00PM | By: John Welch

RedLine Time Attack 2010: Japanese Metal And Everything Else test 1-1

Here we have all of the images the AutoShopperBlog couldn't squeeze into other posts regarding the RedLine Time Attack Series event at Sebring Interantional Raceway last weekend. There were many more pictures that didn't make the cut, either because they were of cars we have fully covered, or my finger was in the way . . . whichever.

Here we have more than few GTRs, Evos, MINIs, BMWs, Scions and Porsches. This race was a blast to cover and hopefully will return next year. I wouldn't mind a slightly overcast day, though; I'm still peeling face skin off in sheets.

If you have any questions about any of the vehicles in these pictures, feel free to ask them through the 'comments'. Enjoy!

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.

The Grandest Cherokee

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 1:35PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

The Grandest Cherokee test 1-1

At one point in the not too distant past, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was the fastest production SUV on the planet. With an old school pushrod six liter Hemi engine producing 420 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, it was the sport in sports utility vehicle. With performance numbers like 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds, 0-100 in 11.8 seconds and the ¼ mile in 13.2@104, it could put almost all but the most muscular of muscle cars from the 1960s to shame.

But as it’s been noted several times over, “Racing improves the breed.”  Since its introduction, the Cherokee SRT8 has been eclipsed by its German competitors in the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and the BMW X5 M that produce almost god-like performance numbers. The Germans outperform the SRT8 in almost every category except price. The once unbeatable Cherokee loses out on horsepower, torque, acceleration, handling, towing capacity, transmission gears, and braking to its foes. 

But fear not, Cherokee faithful; it seems that Chrysler has relocated the entire staff of the now deceased Viper to the SUV department. If the rumors are true, the next Grand Cherokee SRT8 will be, quite simply, the most powerful, meanest, and mind-bendingly fast vehicle to ever bear the Jeep nameplate.  

Cars Run on Glenkinchie Scotch Whiskey

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 1:27PM | By: Chris Weiss

Cars Run on Glenkinchie Scotch Whiskey  test 1-1

Researchers at the Edinburg Napier University are determined to offer a new green fuel option: booze. Or more specifically: booze byproducts. From one of the only places in the world that has a liquor named after it comes a new form of butanol that is significantly more efficient than ethanol and could become the next great alternative fuel.

The University's Biofuel Research Center is in the process of pushing the new product called biobutanol. The fuel was created from the byproducts of whiskey distillation including pot ale and draff, which were supplied by Diageo's Glenkinchie Distillery. The two-year research project culminated in the production of a biofuel that claims to offer 30 percent more output power than ethanol, while using nothing more than a waste product. This extra output means that cars could be fueled directly with biobutanol rather than requiring mixing with petrol gas the way that ethanol does.

Ethanol, a fuel that is found at pumps in the United States, is a clean-burning grain alcohol produced from crops such as corn. As such, it helps to reduce dependency on foreign oil and provide a cleaner form of fuel for the environment. However, ethanol is not used as a dedicated fuel, and must be blended with petroleum-based gasoline for use. According to the American Coalition for Ethanol, about 70 percent of the gasoline used in the United States contains some ethanol, but the majority of that only uses a 10-percent blend known as E10. Blends that include more ethanol such as E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent unleaded gasoline) are only used in flex-fuel vehicles (FFVs).

Porsche Upgrades Panamera Turbo With After-Market Turbo Kit

On: Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 10:15AM | By: Chris Weiss

Porsche Upgrades Panamera Turbo With After-Market Turbo Kit test 1-1

The Porsche Panamera has been splitting its time winning praise and fending off derision since its introduction last year. For owners that want to avoid the latter and welcome more of the former, Porsche has new options that will add power, performance and looks to the four-door. Panamera Turbo owners who want to massage even more horses out of their four-door will soon have a new option. Porsche announced the Powerkit that will boost the output of the Panamera Turbo by 40 hp. The kit will be available this fall. Also available this fall, Porsche will offer several new exterior options.

Porsche's new Powerkit will equip the Panamera Turbo models with new turbochargers that house titanium-alloy turbine wheels. The kit will also include tunes to the engine management system to make the Panamera Turbo's V8 more responsive. The kit pulls an extra 40 ponies out of the 4.8-liter V8 for a total of 540, and also boosts torque to 553 lb-ft (up from 516).

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.