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Auto Industry News
And Car Reviews

Detroit Gets New Plant for Making Jeep Suspensions

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 9:49AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Jeep Grand Cherokee test 2

Hyundai Mobis has announced that they are taking over a parts manufacturing plant in Detroit to build suspensions for the very popular car line of Jeep Grand Cherokees, which are assembled currently at the Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North assembly plant. The plant will be manufacturing the front and the rear suspensions and modules for all new Grand Cherokees that will be made in the US over the years to come. The UAW (United Auto Workers Union) executive vice president, Bob King, is simply ecstatic about more jobs coming back to a city that has been plagued by the shuttering of plants since the Big Three automaker fallout and car buying recession began a few years back.

He was quoted in a recent interview in Auto News, stating, “When you do it in an urban environment, we really appreciate that social commitment.” By urban environment, King is truly emphasizing that this will put some life back into the city which currently sprawls with empty auto plants that used to crank out thousands of cars per day. But after the calamity of the auto recession struck, it has been nearly turned into a car-making ghost town.

According to the report by Auto News, “The factory, which received $23 million in new investment, will add a second shift in July, Joon-hyung Lee, COO in charge of Hyundai Mobis’ global business division, said during ceremonies at the plant.”

Hyundai Mobis, the Korean supplier of the parts that will be used to make these suspension modules, has recently taken over the plant. This was after the departure of ArvinMeritor Inc.; the company has ceased production of lightweight vehicles and no longer requires the use of the plant for producing parts. This takeover is expected to start immediately—as Hyundai Mobis plans on adding shifts and hiring new employees starting in July of this year.

The company has no looming financial woes either, and this is great news for Detroit—a city that was once the auto-making capital of the US and the world.

The report by Auto News really shows the real numbers on how large the part maker is: “Hyundai Mobis ranks No. 20 on the Automotive News list of the top 150 suppliers to North America with parts sales to automakers in North America of an estimated $1.44 billion in fiscal 2009.”

Toyota Sales Gaining in Japan

On: Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 9:42AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Toyota Back on Track test 2

Despite being the subject of much scrutiny as of late, the largest automaker in the world, Toyota, is on the rebound. Things are actually looking up for this carmaker. In fact, a recent report published on Bloomberg shows that sales in Japan are way up for Toyota, and that they have substantially increased their annual production of cars and exports. Not only that, but their future is looking bright and shiny, too. This is because Toyota has risen to the challenge of what is, perhaps, the most horrendous PR nightmare any company could ever endure (with regards to the millions of recalled parts, as well as the faulty acceleration issues, and being lambasted by the US Congress). Even after many people wrote them off, and even after sales plummeted with the fall of their image, Toyota is back in the driver's seat! And there is a good reason why they are the largest maker of cars—because their annual production and sales easily demonstrate this fact.

According to a recent report published on Bloomberg, “Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest carmaker, led a sixth straight monthly increase in vehicle production in Japan as a global recovery spurred exports. Output at the country’s 12 vehicle makers in April rose 51 percent from a year earlier to 731,794 units, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement today. Exports surged 90 percent.”

But the buck does not stop there. No way, Jose! The carmaker has also drastically increased the production of its car lines immensely. After the PR escapade that nearly busted the company over this past year, they had drawn back on production of new cars, and the output.  That was because they needed to focus on revamping their image, and really assuring people that buying a Toyota was a wise decision. Despite the calamity that the car company endured, they did indeed make it through the trials and tribulations, and have come out on top in the end!

New Vinyl Graphics For Customization of Ford Models

On: Sat, Jun 5, 2010 at 11:24AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

New Vinyl Graphics For Customization of Ford Models test 1-1

Ford has developed a new website for its customers to easily create a personalized look for the Ford of their choice by adding a variety of choices of new vinyl graphics that mimic custom paint jobs and cost only half as much. The vinyl graphics are professionally installed at Ford dealerships and each one comes with a warranty.

There are virtually 50 different designs to choose from for every vehicle on the website, including Ford Taurus, Fiesta, Focus, Edge, Flex, Escape, Explorer, the F-Series trucks, and, of course, the Mustang (Mustang and F-150s are two of the most commonly customized vehicles), and many more.

The idea must have caught on from the recent Ford Fiesta/American Idol promotion where 12 custom-designed Fiestas were given away in a drawing to aspirant contenders.The new website makes it easy and affordable for Ford customers to personalize their ride by selecting the model and color of their Ford, then picking form dozens of custom vinyl graphics  to "try  before they buy," seeing exactly how the graphics will look on their automobile before purchasing any of the designs.

Chrysler And BHP Catch The Recall Bug

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 4:26PM | By: John Welch

CanAm Spyder Roadster test 2

Owners of model year 2007 Dodge Calibers and Jeep Compi (the Compass, for those who don't subscribe to "computermouse/Lexus" humor) are being asked to bring their cars back to the dealer for gas-pedal maintenance. To be clear: there are NO reports of crashes or injuries associated with this pedal gremlin, and both Chrysler and the NHTSA have been investigating this issue for the last month. This recall is being ordered by Chrysler and is intended to prevent any possible misshaps.

Can-Am's remarkable Spyder Roadster is also being hit with a recall today, for issues regarding the Roadster's semi-automatic clutch assembly. The full NHTSA report for both manufacturers inside das post . . .


Spyker Sold At Saab Dealers & Saab Icon May Return

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 4:21PM | By: Clay Ritchings

Saab 92 Concept test 2

The upstart car manufacturer Spyker Cars N.V. intends to sell the high end sports cars in Saab showrooms near you. According to Spykers CEO Victor Muller, they plan to offer the C8 Aileron model through 90 Saab outlets by the end of next year, almost doubling the number of dealers selling the hand-made sports cars this year.

Ever since Spyker bought Saab from GM in February, the Dutch supercar maker has been benefiting from lower prices. Generic parts such as windshield wiper motors will be cheaper via Spyker's sister company Saab, because Saab buys in volume. Spyker will also benefit from the Saab engineering resources to help the production of the supercar and, in turn, make the niche supercar profitable.

Two Races In Four Days: Grand (Am) Insanity

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 3:38PM | By: John Welch

Two Races In Four Days: Grand (Am) Insanity test 1-1

Last week, the race was at Lime Rock, this week Watkins Glen. Using the word "week" to describe Grand-Am's recent schedule is a wee bit excessive. The Lime Rock portion of this cavalcade of road racing madness took place last Monday, Memorial Day. While the rest of us ate pork and drank Schlitz, Rolex Sports Car teams were dueling each other on a new (to Grand-Am) circuit. Afterwards, while we were faking sleep on the couch to avoid dishes, these teams were driving 18-wheelers filled with racecars and race paraphernalia north, to Watkins Glen New York. Where, after just four short days, they will unload and begin terrorizing the Catskills countryside with the sounds and tremors of 40 angry, dinosaur-fueled sports cars. Almost makes a person forget about that whole "oil spill" thingee. Almost.

Though domination by the Ganassi BMWs was every knowledgeable know-nothing's prediction (yours truly included) the blue and white Riley was crippled two laps into the race—the outcome of a scuffle with the championship-contending No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Chevrolet. This incident left the door open for the SunTrust/Wayne Taylor Racing team, who were starting the race from the pole position. Max Angelli drove a smooth race and brought the SunTrust Dallara its first victory of the season.

A video review of Lime Rock and a preview of the Sahlens 6 Hours at the Glen inside the post . . .

GM Sets Sights Upon Growing Indonesian Auto Market

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 12:19PM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

Chevy Cruze test 2

If you are curious about how GM is doing, guess what: They are doing great! Not only have they been repaying their loans, and on time—and actually early on some—but they are really making strides to expand their market. Next stop: Indonesia, the fourth largest country in the world, and one of the world's hottest and fasting growing auto markets. And, to boot, people in Indonesia love the current US president (who lived there as a kid), and they also adore GM, namely, Chevys! So for GM, the next stop is Indonesia, particularly the capitol city, Jakarta.

According to a recent report published in the Detroit Free Press, General Motors “aims to capture at least 10% of the Indonesian market, which is viewed as holding the potential to substantially increase the automaker's overall sales and help boost the bottom line.”

The carmaker has been seeing some pretty good sales in this region as of late, as well. Showing some strong and steady gains in the market and really pushing sales of their very popular Chevy Cruze—a newer and sleek, very affordable four-door sedan that GM is making. An interesting perspective here on the popularity of this car is that it comes with the endorsement of the US President, Barrack Obama.

In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, M. Juansyah (a salesman for Chevrolet in Jakarta) said, “President Obama signed the car. This makes it kind of interesting to customers. It showed that President Obama himself is interested in buying this car. So why don't you? Obama is very well known here."

AutoNation Streamlines Sales Predictions

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 11:51AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

AutoNation Streamlines Sales Predictions test 1-1

If you are looking to get into a brand new pickup truck, you are not alone. In fact more people bought pickup trucks in the US during the past month (May) than they have in recent years. How much has this truck buying trend increased, you may be wondering? According to a recent report by CNBC, truck sales in the US are up a whopping 50% from the same time last year. More people are buying more trucks, and thanks to massive dealer incentives, rebates, and lighter financing restrictions, this is a trend that should hopefully continue well into the future.

Over the months that lay ahead it should be far easier to see what the real numbers are for truck sales in the US. This is because one of the leading auto sales companies in the US, AutoNation, is going to start releasing monthly reports to aid consumers and news sources. This new reporting method should serve to work wonders for analysts, buyers, and just about anybody who is interested in how the US truck market is currently faring.

According to a recent report published on CNBC, “AutoNation, the country's largest vehicle sales company, is now giving us some insight. Starting today, AutoNation will begin releasing its own monthly sales figures, and will provide more detail than the big auto companies.”

AutoNation also has reported a vast surge in sales for the month of May, 2010. In fact, they are up around 22% overall. And, pickup truck sales saw a vast increase in overall units sold, to the tune of a 50% increase from this same time last year. The CNBC report really offers some solid perspective on what the current numbers are, and what automakers that are manufacturing and selling pickup trucks in the US are experiencing, as far as overall sales in the month of May.

In the CNBC report they highlight these aspects, “For May, AutoNation's sales were up 22 percent, matching what we saw from some of the big automakers, including Ford (NYSE: F - News), General Motors, and Toyota (NYSE: TM - News). But get this: Pickup truck sales were up 50 percent year-over-year. That's a huge sign of strength for American small businesses, according to AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson.”

German Auto Exports Rose by Nearly 50% in May

On: Fri, Jun 4, 2010 at 9:59AM | By: Michael Jon Lazar

German Auto Exports Rose by Nearly 50% in May test 1-1

Germany: The home to some pretty well-known automakers—like Daimler AG, Porsche SE, Volkswagen AG, and BMW AG—is also following what seems to be the melody of rising car sales on a global scale. After taking a look at some recent news reports, indications are that sales of auto exports from Germany are up nearly 50% for the month of May; this is sorta kinda on par with a global trend of rising auto sales. (See a prior post I wrote about the Indian auto industry enjoying similar rising sales trends by clicking here.) Considering all of the recent calamity that has ensued in the auto market globally over the past few years, one has a good mind to think that this burgeoning trend can denote a final passage of the auto recession, as more consumers opt to purchase import cars from Germany and abroad. And some of these cars don’t come cheap: They are sought-after, coveted luxury autos like BMWs and Porsches.

According to an early June Associated Press report, “ 'German car exports increased by nearly half in May compared to a year earlier but sales continued to slide at home', an industry group said Wednesday.”

The report further sheds some light on how vast this increase of production in car exports from Germany really is: “Germany exported 367,700 cars last month, an increase of 46 percent compared with May 2009," said the VDA group, which represents automakers. That followed a 58 percent year-on-year rise in April. Orders from abroad were up 22 percent in May compared to a year earlier, rising for the 10th consecutive month. China and the United States have provided strong demand this year, VDA said.

Ohio Residents May Be Getting More Speeding Tickets

On: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 5:46PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Ohio Residents May Be Getting More Speeding Tickets test 1-1

The Ohio Supreme Court has recently ruled that police officers in the Buckeye State do not necessarily need evidence from radar to prove that a vehicle is speeding, they can; however ticket a motorist who is driving in the state of Ohio, simply because it looks like he may be speeding. 

Gone are the days of radar guns, LIDAR, or even the archaic pacing method. Officers merely need to estimate that you might be speeding and that is enough to start writing tickets, which can result in high fines or points on your license. Oh, of course, you can take your valuable time off of work to go to the courthouse and fight the ticket, but you may need the added expense of legal counsel to be completely in the clear. 

As it turns out, most police officers have little or no formal training that would help them gauge how fast a vehicle is going by eyeballing it. In fact, law enforcement officers are probably not much better than you or me at looking at a car driving down the highway and deciphering if it is speeding or not—well, except for in extreme cases, of course. But that leaves plenty of gray area, too much for my comfort zone, particularly at the end of the month when police are trying to meet traffic ticket writing quotas.

Tips For Teaching Your Teenager To Be A Safe Drive

On: Thu, Jun 3, 2010 at 4:40PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Tips For Teaching Your Teenager To Be A Safe Drive test 1-1

The incidence of fatalities in teenagers involved in motor-vehicle accidents has decrease by as much as 69% in areas where a curfew has been established and enforced. Most parents are interested in how they can help their teen to become a safer driver, but may not know exactly how to go about it.

According to a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for the NHTSI, National Highway Traffic Safety Institute, most teens are able to steer and maneuver the car without problems; the difficult part for them is observing the scene, learning to predict danger, and developing the ability to make correct decisions quickly.

Safety experts across the country are advocating for licensing programs that permit young drivers to gradually gain driving experience in three stages; the first stage would be receiving a permit, supervised driving would be the second stage, followed by a restricted driving stage that would allow young drivers to gain a specific number of hours of experience before getting out on the road to drive alone.

Here are some tip to enable you to successfully teach your teens to drive safely;