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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry




Smithsonian Dedicates Upcoming Website and Exhibit to Auto Safety

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 12:07PM | By: Chris Weiss


Smithsonian Dedicates Upcoming Website and Exhibit to Auto Safety  test 1-1

During a time when interest in auto safety is at its peak, thanks largely to Toyota's unprecedented string of highly publicized safety issues, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History is putting together a website and exhibit on auto safety. 10 individuals and companies, including GM and AAA, made a significant donation of auto safety equipment and icons ranging from historical seat belts to crash test dummies. Cars and protecting your vital organs—what's not to like?

Highlights of the donations made to the museum yesterday include the costumes used by Vince and Larry—the crash test dummies featured in the "You Could Learn a Lot From a Dummy" series of ads back in the 1980s and 90s—as well as other crash test dummies and parts. The actors who played Vince and Larry, Tony Reitano and Whitney Rydbeck, even showed up for Wednesday's event. Also on hand were the campaign's co-creator, Jim Ferguson, and its director Bill Dear. The quartet spoke candidly about filming the commercials and gave a little insight about the impact the campaign had on them and the greater public. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seat belt usage rose 14 percent points as a result of the campaign and an estimated 85,000 lives were spared.

While the Vince and Larry memorabilia created the biggest buzz, donations included a variety of historically significant equipment like a 1967 Chevy steering wheel column that was the world's first collapsible model, the first three-point seat belt from Volvo, 1930s AAA driving manuals, and ignition-integrated breath analyzers from Guardian Interlock.

The Smithsonian will feature the newly donated items on a website dedicated to auto safety from the 1920s through today, and later will include them in an exhibit.

Roger White, a curator at the museum said of the collection, "This is about America’s relationship with its cars; we all know it’s a love affair. But automobiles had to change to make them truly useful and acceptable.”


Safe Driving-AAA Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep At the Wheel

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 11:48AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Safe Driving-AAA Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep At the Wheel test 1-1

Believe it or not, motorists who get behind the wheel of an automobile when they are drowsy have impairments in judgment similar to those motorists driving under the influence of alcohol experience. Simply put; a tired driver is a danger to himself and others.


U.S. Auto Brands On The Rise According to New J.D. Power Survey

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 11:11AM | By: Chris Weiss


The Ford Edge test 2

It's been a rough few years for the American automobile industry, no matter how you cut it. However, it appears that the Detroit Big 3 are benefiting from refocused efforts and the image problems of companies abroad. A new survey from J.D. Power and Associates indicates that American car buyers are actually the most satisfied car consumers in the country.

The Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) asked 76,000 respondents during February through May about their experience with new vehicles purchased within 90 days. No short-form, like or dislike format, the survey grilled respondents about more than 80 different vehicle criteria to garner a comprehensive look at how drivers felt about their automobiles. The data was then compounded to put together a numeric score on a scale that rises to 1,000.

For the first time in 13 years, American cars were actually triumphant over Asian and European models. Overall, American brands averaged 787 points, which was 13 points higher than imports. This represents a large jump from last year, in which American brands earned a collective 776 and lagged five points behind imports. America's gains were driven largely by new and redesigned models from Ford and GM.


Update on Appeals Process for U.S. Auto Dealers

On: Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 10:45AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Update on Appeals Process for U.S. Auto Dealers test 1-1

Literally hundreds of U.S. auto dealers faced with closure of their dealerships filed an appeals process in order to stay in business. The appeals court will soon be over for many dealerships, but the Chrysler Group may still have to tackle months of litigation with its dealers in various states.

According to a recent Associated Press article by DeAnne Durbin there are only 35 cases left unresolved out of nearly 1,600 General Motors and Chrysler disputes that were initially brought to arbitration. Final hearings are set for this week and the decisions will be handed down by the end of the week.

The arbitration hearings were ordered by Congress after U.S. automakers filed for bankruptcy last year, and then announced plans to close 2800 GM and Chrysler dealerships. U.S. automakers were saying that there were too many dealerships and made reference to Toyota, which is the world’s largest automaker, having only 1200 dealerships in the U.S.

The dealerships argued that franchises have been family-owned for many generations, and requested that consumer buying trends dictate which dealerships stay open.


 

Defensive Driving-Avoid Tailgaters

On: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 3:05PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Defensive Driving-Avoid Tailgaters  test 1-1

Everyone knows that tailgaters are a pain in the you know what. Following too closely often restricts your vision, and gives you less time to react, should the driver in front of you need to make a sudden stop. In fact, 40% of the accidents are a direct result of following too closely.

Those statistics are the reason the two-second rule was created and integrated into driving safety programs, and appear as a very common test question on most state’s driver’s license exams. 
Okay, so it’s a fairly simple guideline to follow, given the fact that we know we will have cut our risk of being in a rear-end collision in half if we simply adhere, but what about other drivers who are tailgating—following us to closely? There are some practical things that you can do to help ensure your safety when other motorists put you at risk.

Let's say you can't get the guy off your tail and he follows you for several blocks. If something requiring immediate response happens and you actually DO hit the brakes, the tailgater's reaction time may be longer because he is thinking you are just "tapping" your brake lights again—and by tailgating he is already too close for comfort!

The first thing to do is automatically add an extra two seconds between you and the driver in front of you, so that if you need to react you have more time to change lanes or slow down before the guy behind you rear-ends you.


Chevy To Back The Volt Battery With 100,000-Mile Warranty

On: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 11:32AM | By: Chris Weiss


Volt Battery Plant Manager  Marisol McCormick assembles the first Volt batt test 2

If you are a little hesitant to buy into hybrid or electric vehicle market because of the unproven nature of the technology behind these vehicles, GM has just made your decision a little lighter. The automaker announced today that it will extend an industry-leading 8-year/100,000-mile warranty to the lithium-ion battery used in the Volt. Not only does GM stress that this is the longest, most robust battery warranty to be offered on any electric vehicle, it states that the warranty is transferable, at no cost, when the Volt is sold. The newly announced battery warranty is also better than the 5-year/100,000-mile warranty Chevy offers on its gasoline engines.

GM's new warranty covers not only all battery components—numbering 161 in total—but also extends to the thermal management system, which is used to warm or cool the battery depending upon outside weather conditions, the charging system, and the electric drive components. It should deliver extra consumer confidence in the integrity of the new electric drivetrain being used within the Volt.

While the new warranty delivers extra protection, GM is confident that its battery offers the on-road performance needed to stand up to daily driving. The battery has been developed to hold up under extreme temperatures, rough terrain, and other rigors of everyday use. According to GM's own numbers, testers have put one million miles and four million hours into testing every aspect of the batteries including short circuiting, corrosion, water submersion, and extreme temperature shifts.


Toyota May Not Be Entirely At Fault in Unintended Acceleration

On: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 9:50AM | By: Chris Weiss


2011 Toyota Avalon  test 2

The United States Department of Transportation has been rigorously analyzing paperwork and equipment relating to Toyota's unintended accleration problems, issues that have caused the recall of more than eight million vehicles, beginning last year. While the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority (NHTSA) has already slapped Toyota with a $16.4 million fine, and may still add more fines to that total, a recent report in the Wall Street Journal indicates that the agency is finding that Toyota is not the only party to blame in the acceleration woes. In at least a portion of the complaints, driver error has been found to be the cause of the issue.

In an intensive analysis of dozens of vehicle data recorders taken from Toyota models involved in sudden acceleration incidents, the NHTSA has found that many of them recorded the throttle being fully open and the brakes being disengaged at the time of crashing. This shows that the drivers involved were punching the accelerator, but not stepping on the brakes at all.

The problem of sudden acceleration, which has been linked to both floor mats and defective, sticking accelerator pedals in individual recalls, has been that cars reportedly accelerated even when the brakes were pressed. However, in these newly uncovered incidents, it would appear that the drivers mistakenly hit the accelerator rather than the brakes.

Driver error has also been cited as the cause of some high profile acceleration incidents, including one in New York and one in the San Diego area.


The History of Monster Truck Events

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 5:32PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


The History of Monster Truck Events test 1-1

If you are a truck enthusiast, chances are that you are into Monster Trucks, particularly if your love for trucks goes back to the 70s when their popularity initially began, as lifted trucks with large 48-inch wheels became the rave. Famous trucks such as “Bigfoot" and “King Kong” were first introduced back then and still compete in shows today.

In the late 70s, truck enthusiasts began to explore different options for mud bogging and truck pulling which were evolving into more and more popular leisure activities. Trucks used for competition started to be modified to adapt to an increased demands that were put on them.

A pioneer in the monster truck industry was Bob Chandler, who has become known as the founder of the trade. Bob Chandler was a 4X4 enthusiast, and those who knew him say he was a lead-foot when he drove. His notoriously heavy foot led to a nickname—Bigfoot. Chandler started creating promotional videos of his jumps for his truck store. Then, as fate would have it, an event promoter noticed the video and requested that Chandler start performing in front of a live audience. Eventually the events grew to be more and more popular. Chandler was the first promoter of events with monster trucks that would jump and race other trucks. Chandler's performance became known as the “Truck-A-Rama,” and he was also believed to have first termed the phrase “Monster Truck,” when describing the famous truck called “Bigfoot.”


White House Touting Green Vehicle Technology This Week

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 5:27PM | By: Chris Weiss


President Obama test 2

This week should prove to be a pivotal time for the green vehicle market, with a variety of high-profile public events and announcements taking place around the United States. President Obama and administration officials are making their way around the country to promote electric vehicle technologies. The officials will be visiting electric component plants in the east and midwest to attend grand openings and grant award events. At the same time,  the world's second richest man—Bill Gates—announced that he will invest in EcoMotors, a Michigan-based engine manufacturer that is committed to making more efficient engines.

Thursday, the Department of Energy will release a new report about the impact of governement grants on electric vehicle development. Among other things, the report will demonstrate how costs of developing batteries for electric vehicles will lower from $33,000 today to $16,000 by the end of 2013 and to $10,000 by the end of 2015.

Also on Thursday, a host of officials will be bolstering public attention to the administration's work in promoting the future of electric vehicles. President Obama will be in Holland, Michigan for the opening of the $303 million Compact Power lithium-ion battery plant, which received $151 million of federal money. The plant will employ 450 workers by 2013. On the same day, Ed Montgomery, executive director of the White House Council on Automotive Communities and Workers, will be at GM's White Marsh, Maryland plant in recognition of a $105 million grant for electric drivetrain development, and Secretary of Labor Hillary Solis will be promoting a $49 million grant to battery manufacturer Celgard in Charlotte, North Carolina.


IndyCar 2010; Turning Boring And Irrelevant Into Exciting And Cost Effective

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 12:19PM | By: John Welch


Lola's proposed Indy Car for 2012 test 2

We have no reason whatsoever to cover the current Izod IndyCar Series. Every car has the same chassis, same engine, and foriegn drivers. Blah. Not only are the engines and chassis identical, they have been the exact same part since 2002!! Not exactly something we have time for here on the 'Shopper Blog. Maybe if they changed the rules a little, invited in some new manufacturers, some new chasses, and some fresh competition, then maybe we would care. As long as there are racing Series such as the Rolex Grand-Am Series and the American Le Mans Series then Americas premier open-wheel series has to step up their game in order to charge NASCAR prices for USHRA product.

Today, things may change. At high noon . . . thirty today, the Izod IndyCar Series will release its plans for 2012, establishing hope for open-wheel racing and/or putting the nail in the coffin. The 'Shopper will be watching, and you should too. A note: in the nineties, IndyCar was considered an equal to F1. I wouldn't mind getting that sort of international recognition back for an American series.

The press conference will be held at 12:30 p.m. EST, and can be streamed here. Thanky and Good Day . . .


Toyota Creates 6 New Product Quality Field Locations

On: Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 10:54AM | By: Sherry Christiansen


2011 Toyota RAV4 test 2

Toyota Motor Corp. announced today that the company will be adding new product quality field offices—referred to as PQFO—around North America in order to more efficiently handle any customer complaints.The decision to add field offices in San Francisco and three other cities follows a successful pilot program in New York late last year.

Offices will be located in the same geographical location as Toyota Motor Sales regional offices, offering special services to investigate and handle customer issues, such as reports of sticky gas pedals.

The first pilot office opened in New York City in order to specialize in assisting with cold weather issues, such as corrosion in the Lexus and Scion models. The San Francisco office will address issues dealing with hybrid models such as the Prius, since there is a high concentration of hybrids on the west coast, while the Houston office will target truck problems, as well as heating and cooling issues.