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Ford Reports Second-Quarter Profits Up 13%

On: Mon, Jul 26, 2010 at 8:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ford Reports Second-Quarter Profits Up 13% test 1-1

Contrary to what many financial analysts predicted, Ford Motor Company’s second-quarter profit has reached $2.6 billion, a 13% increase, marking the fifth quarter in a row that Ford has been able to report the good news. Sales have been up for Ford Motor Co. as a result of the new redesigned the Taurus, and many new fuel efficient models that have been launched this year, which have shown that Ford continues to be a success in the marketplace.

Ford’s total sales climbed to $31.3 billion, which is quite an increase over last year’s numbers, which were reportedly only $27.2 billion.

In a recent conference call, Ford’s CEO Alan Mulally stated, “Overall, our performance this year gives us great confidence going forward.”  He continued, “We are ahead of where we thought we’d be.”

Paying off debt has been a big goal for Ford and analysts say if the company continues the track record it has set so far this year, that goal should be attained by the end of 2011. According to analyst Shelly Lombard: “It can give the company more flexibility and ultimately improve the way they’re perceived on Wall Street.”

Analysts predicted a 41-cent rise in stock shares but Ford reports stock earnings at 68 cents per share, to $12.73. Ford shares had fallen as low as $1.26 in 2008.

According to a recent Associated Press article posted on www.kval.com, Ford, which had mortgaged everything to avoid taking government bailouts as well as bankruptcy, is now “reaping big rewards and stealing business from stumbling rivals.”

Bring Back the '57 Chevy

On: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:56AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Bring Back the '57 Chevy test 1-1

Today, the 1957 Chevrolet is known as one of the ultimate classic cars. If you are a car buff, you can immediately identify the '57 as one of the most popular cars of all time.  In fact, the '57 Chevy was so popular that it has actually evolved into an icon for American car history. A 1957 Chevrolet Convertible was the dream car of every baby boomer in the late 1950s and early 1960s,— and the car has been in high demand since production ended, as one of the best classic cars for antique car collectors.

The '57 Chevrolet was launched in late 1956 by GM as a part of a special “Sneak Preview of New Cars.”  The famous features noted back then were the tail fins and excess trim on the sides—such as most cars of the 50s had. I’m sure that the trim would have become one of those little-known obsolete car details of the past had the '57 Chevy not become one of the most popular cars in all of history.  

As time passed, most of the competitors of the ‘57 Chevy faded away, while the ’57 continued to maintain its popularity, particularly the Bel-Air model which started as a favorite in southern California, then its popularity spread across the nation.

ALMS Attacks Lime Rock Saturday

On: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:16AM | By: John Welch

The Flying Lizard Porsche GT3 RSR test 2

So the Utah race was little bit of a snoozer; it was the fault of that awful Miller Motorsports Park, not the ALMS regulars who raced there. That track, in a word, is BORING. Lime Rock on the other hand is INTENSE! That is a significant difference when talking about cars that need some sort of straightaway to pass. This weekend we have straightaways galore!

The Grand-Am Series has already raced at Lime Rock this year, and it was purty badass. The ALMS features prototypes and GT cars that are even faster than Rolex Series racers, making the long front stretch that much more important. Passing is at a premium in Utah, it should be omnipresent in Connecticut.

The rain has already fallen during the first practice session, which began about an hour ago. The Drayson Lola looks fast, as well as the usual ALMS favorites, Patron Highcroft Racing. Their HPD ARX-01c is out-paced by the Drayson's V10 Judd engine and the Intersport AER-sourced Turbo V8, but in the corners the Wirth-Engineering chassis shines. It doesn't hurt that Highcroft employs some of the best drivers in the world, David Brabham and Simon Pagenaud, among them.

Qualifying can be viewed live, online at SPEEDtv.com. The race goes green tomorrow at 2 p.m. Eastern. The 'Shopper Blog will have a full recap Monday, images and videos included!

Ford Prices Hybrid Lincoln MKZ Hybrid the Same as Gas Version

On: Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 10:02AM | By: Chris Weiss

Ford Prices Hybrid Lincoln MKZ Hybrid the Same as Gas Version test 1-1

Ford Motor Company announced the pricing on the 2011 Lincoln MKZ sedan today, and the company says that it will "make history" by offering the hybrid sedan at the same $35,180 base price as the gas-powered Lincoln MKZ. Lincoln will be the first luxury automaker to offer a hybrid at the same price as its gas-based sibling. Ford demonstrates its commitment to hybrid vehicles, and consumers have one more reason to carefully consider a greener means of transportation.

Ford calls the MKZ Hybrid "America's most fuel-efficient luxury sedan," a midsize sedan that delivers an EPA-certified 41 mpg. The car uses Ford's second-generation hybrid technology, which centers around a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle I-4 hybrid engine, an engine that earned recognition as one of Ward's 2010 "10 Best Engines." The car delivers fuel economy of 41 mpg on highways and 36 in the city while offering 191 hp. It is capable of driving at speeds up to 47 mph on all-electric propulsion.

The V6-powered MKZ offers 18/27 mpg while delivering 263. 

The MKZ Hybrid offers a variety of green features, including SmartGuage with EcoGuide, a technological display system that helps drivers to maximize their fuel efficiency, and eco-friendly wood trim. Premium features include the Lincoln Sync vehicle Bluetooth communications and entertainment system, memory seat function, heated/cooled front seats, and keyless entry.


MotorTrend Archives; AutoStag From The Past

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 3:05PM | By: John Welch

MotorTrend Archives; AutoStag From The Past test 1-1

I may have come off as less than a MotorTrend supporter in the past. Something about poor editing in the name of saving money just doesn't hit me the right way. Though they regularly print glaring errors, MotorTrend does have its upside: the website.

Buried deep within the bowels of MT's server we are able to find the MotorTrend Archives, an absolute treasure trove of old car reviews and articles. Not the typical stuff from the fifties or sixties either; I'm just finishing an article about the 1986 Mazda RX-7. I would have never known how absolutely brilliant this thing was. The FC RX-7 came equipped with every trick used by automakers today. Everything from an nearly active rear suspension (the rear-end is able to change camber to suit driving conditions . . . what?!) to electronically controlled power steering, something that annoys the hell out of us nowadays, but in 1986 this feature was totally space-aged.

The Archives are sort of difficult to find, as I alluded to earlier, but we grabbed a link so that you can skip all of the self-stroking puffery and get straight to reviews about cars you can actually afford. Enjoy!

Lotus Plans New Supercar Concept For Paris Motor Show

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 2:28PM | By: Chris Weiss

Lotus Esprit Concept test 2

Six years ago, British automotive company Lotus saddened car fans everywhere when it discontinued its iconic Esprit sports coupe. The plan at the time was to refocus the brand on smaller, lighter, more affordable vehicles. While models like the Elise, Evora, and Exige have opened the Lotus badge to a new breed of buyers, the Esprit has been sorely missed. Rumors have been loudening that Lotus plans on showing an Esprit concept at the upcoming 2010 Paris Motor Show. Today, Lotus confirmed that it has a supercar concept planned, but hinted that it may be even more intriguing than a new Esprit.

The Norfolk-based automaker stated that the supercar concept it brings to Paris may be "perhaps even more” than a simple Esprit revival, indicating that Lotus may move even farther upmarket. Under the leadership of former Ferrari executive Danny Bahar and a handful of other transplants from Ferrari, Aston Martin, and Porsche, it's understood that Lotus plans to make a decisive move toward Porsche and Ferrari territory. Lotus didn't reveal any details about the upcoming concept, but indicated it will provide a clear outline of the brand's intended future direction.

How Airbags Protect Motorists and Thier Passengers During an Accident

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 2:15PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

How Airbags Protect Motorists and Thier Passengers During an Accident  test 1-1

Everyone knows that the primary function of automotive airbags is to protect the driver and his/her passengers in the unfortunate event that an accident occurs. But how, exactly, do airbags protect you in an accident and why are they so important when safety ratings are performed?  

During a moderate to severe impact the front airbags are deployed within a fraction of a second and they protect the driver and passengers from being thrown into contact with the car’s interior.

It is important to wear a seat belt; if an occupant is not wearing a seat belt during an accident, there is a much higher probability of severe injury or even death as a result of sitting too close to the airbag, which can be deployed at 200 mph. Driver and front passenger seats should be moved as far back as possible, particularly for shorter people, to prevent being too close to the airbag in case it is deployed in an accident.

Bill to Electrify Half of U.S. Auto Fleet Passes Senate Committee

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 9:46AM | By: Chris Weiss

Bill to Electrify Half of U.S. Auto Fleet Passes Senate Committee  test 1-1

An electric vehicle bill sponsored by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today in a vote of 19 to 4. Called the "Promoting Electric Vehicles Act of 2010," the bill aims to provide the financial incentives necessary to turn half of the vehicles on U.S. roadways into plug-ins by 2030. While easily passing out of committee, the bill faces an uncertain future with the current Senate term winding down toward an August recess and November elections.

Democrats are considering combining the bill with a greater package of energy and climate legislation to be presented on the Senate floor. They're hoping to push that legislation through the Senate in the near future, before recesses in mid-August and November interrupt their plans.

Auto Sales May Reach Highest Mark In Two Years As Retail Franchises Close

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 9:40AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Auto Sales May Reach Highest Mark In Two Years As Retail Franchises Close test 1-1

After closing thousands of small dealerships in the U.S. auto retailers project that they may post the highest profits in nearly two years.

Auto Nation Inc, the largest dealer group, may post $3.06 billion in second-quarter sales when it reports earnings, which would be the highest revenue since the third quarter of 2008. Penske Automotive Group Inc. and Sonic Automotive Inc., the second- and third-largest retailers, may post the highest sales in two years July 29th according to approximations by financial analysts.

When General Motors and Chrysler closed 2,800 dealerships last year as part of a restructure program after bankruptcy, the two automotive giants announced that the goal was to be able to sell more vehicles at the surviving retail locations.
Many people have condemned the auto franchise closings stating they added to the already high unemployment rate, but dealer groups report otherwise, that the stores were financially failing anyhow and by closing them, more profit was allowed for the surviving stores.

“We’re seeing the remaining stores do significantly better,” Greg Young, Sonics’ vice president of finance, stated. “In markets where other Cadillac or Chevy dealers closed, our Cadillac or Chevy stores are doing much better.” Better translates to $1.7 billion estimated in second-quarter sales.

GM Awards $2 Billion To Hewlett-Packard For Technology Contract

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 9:23AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

 GM Awards $2 Billion To Hewlett-Packard For Technology Contract  test 1-1

General Motors has approved a $2 billion contract with Hewlett Packard (HP), which will maintain the companies' partnership that was established over two decades ago. In a recent press release, HP spokesperson was quoted as saying that this agreement will extend the two companies' 25-year relationship.

According to HP, the company will "manage GM’s technology infrastructure with a focus on providing an enhanced and continuously improving world-class end-user experience." Translated, that means that HP will integrate its own technology into GM platforms, including OnStar.

“The automotive industry is in the midst of a transformation and GM’s technology infrastructure needs to be hitting on all cylinders to take full advantage of the potential market opportunities,” Tom Iannotti, HP senior vice president and general manager, said in a company release. “HP has a track record of outstanding service to GM that we will continue to deliver to help GM realize their business objectives.”

Not only does HP provide apps for GM’s auto technology in new vehicles, the company also provides data and financial management for GM.

Volkswagen Plans Leading Role in Hybrid/EV Market

On: Thu, Jul 22, 2010 at 9:18AM | By: Chris Weiss

VW E-Up! Concept  test 2

Look around the U.S. market today, and you won't see a single Volkswagen hybrid or electric vehicle. You'll have to wait until later this year for that, when the 2011 Touareg hybrid becomes available. While Volkswagen AG has battled with Toyota for the title of world's largest car maker in recent months, it has lagged well behind Toyota and other manufacturers in terms of hybrids and electric vehicles. VW plans to remedy that situation with a barrage of hybrid and electric launches over the next three years, hoping to become a leader in the green auto market.

"I am deeply convinced Volkswagen will play a key role in electrifying the automotive world," VW CEO Martin Winterkorn said at a press conference yesterday. He spoke at VW's Electronics Research Laboratory in Palo Alto, CA, where he was for a 2011 Jetta launch event.

Winterkorn plans to back up this broad statement with a steady stream of hybrid and electric car releases. Following the recent debut of the hybrid Touareg, VW will launch a hybrid Jetta in 2012 and a Golf and Passat in 2013. In terms of EVs, Volkswagen will launch an E-Golf and E-Up! in 2013. An electric Jetta is also planned. 

Other brands within Volkswagen AG will also be introducing electrics and hybrids over the coming years, as well, including the Audi e-tron, Audi Q5 Hybrid, Porsche Cayenne Hybrid and, possibly, the Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid.