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Archive for June, 2012

Car Prices Tumble – Especially Japanese Products

Used vehicle prices also on the decline.

by on Jun.28, 2012

As the holiday approaches, motorists will be able to celebrate the decline in both new and used car prices.

The start of the typically strong summer buying season has brought with it some great news for U.S. car buyers.  According to a variety of sources, prices are tumbling on both new and used vehicles – especially those Japanese offerings that were in short supply last year in the week of that country’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

While prices vary by model and manufacturer, you can expect to pay about $500 less for the typical new car, truck or crossover than you would have for the same product a year ago, according to research by Kelly Blue Book.

Meanwhile, after a record run-up in pricing during the winter and spring, used car prices also appear to be on the decline.

Pricing News!

Some of the biggest discounts, the tracking firm reports, come on Japanese models like the Honda Civic and even the Toyota Prius.  But that may be a bit misleading.  Following the March 2012 natural disaster, most Japanese products were in short supply, leading makers to trim back rebates and other discounts – effectively raising prices.  Those givebacks are now getting back to more normal levels, Bob Carter, head of the Toyota division, tells TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Four of Five Drivers Admit to Distracted Driving Behavior

Men (surprise!) admit to being the worst offenders.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Government data reveals that while highway fatalities are declining, distracted driving deaths are up..

If you’ve ever texted while driving or sent out a Tweet, well, you aren’t alone.  In fact, you’re far from the minority, it seems.  A new Harris Poll reveals that more than four out of five motorists admit to making some sort of distracted driving behavior in a typical month.

Men, it turns out, are more likely to engage in this potentially dangerous behavior, according to the latest Harris AutoTechCast study, particularly when it comes to taking or making a phone call.  Younger motorists are more likely to do things like texting.

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Some of the behaviors might not normally land on a list of dangerous activities, such as drinking a beverage, but the risky behaviors begin to add up – to an average 37 different distracted driving activities over the last month, according to Harris Interactive, which conducted the poll.

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New Ford Tech Will Aid Drivers Park, Reduce Traffic Gridlock

Maker also seeks tech solution to driver distraction.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Ford Traffic Jam Assist system.

With Nevada already licensing prototype autonomous vehicles, automakers are racing to come up with new technology that can simplify the task of driving, maneuver through traffic and reduce the endemic problem of driver distraction.

At a preview of its 2013 line-up Ford also revealed some of the high-tech driver assistance systems it is hoping to introduce over the next several years, including one that could reduce traffic gridlock, another that simplifies the task of backing into a tight parking spot.

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“Developing these technologies is part of the first step in a journey toward a more connected future,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford chief technical officer and vice president, Research and Innovation. “It’s an undertaking we believe will save time, conserve resources, lower emissions, improve safety and help reduce driver stress.”

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First Drive: 2013 Hyundai Veloster Turbo

Upping the fun factor.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Hyundai pumps it up with the new Veloster Turbo.

The Hyundai Veloster has been turning heads ever since the South Korean automaker rolled it out last autumn.  If the quirky little hatchback had a downside it was an anemic powertrain that limited its fun factor.

To their credit, Hyundai officials listened to the critiques and responded with unexpected speed, a new Veloster Turbo ready to hit market for the 2013 model-year that is bound to win over even more fans looking for a car that’s both cool and now has ample power to back its ambitions.

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The restless folks at Hyunda Motor America have also tweaked the Veloster’s still fresh exterior design with the turbo version while adding more equipment.  The results should provide some serious competition for more established nameplates in this class such as the Volkswagen GTI, the Honda Civic Si and the Mini Clubman.

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Caddy Considering ATS Coupe, V-Series Variants – and more.

Catching up to the imports.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Cadillac is looking at a variety of additional ATS variants for the near future, including a V-Series and possibly an ATS Coupe.

copyright: TheDetroitBureau.com

With the upcoming launch of the Cadillac ATS the once-dominant luxury brand hopes to begin the difficult task of rebuilding its once-lofty reputation and challenging such import stalwarts as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

The ATS is not only the first compact Caddy model line in three decades but the marque’s first product to offer a four-cylinder engine – two, in fact – since the dreaded Cimarron, a vehicle whose mere mention evoked reflexively painful winces during a preview of the new ATS this week.

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Specifically aimed at the luxury compact benchmark, the ATS will debut in sedan form with a choice of three powertrain packages.  But numerous Cadillac insiders revealed to TheDetroitBureau.com that this is likely just the beginning.  An array of additional ATS variants likely will follow.  Among those under serious consideration are an ATS Coupe and the seemingly requisite V-Series version.

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Want to Look Like a Hero? Drive a 2013 Audi S4

All-wheel drive means anyone can look like a hotshot behind the wheel.

by on Jun.27, 2012

Audi's S4 is the sports sedan that will make anyone look like a race car driver.

A friend on Facebook suggested that we ban the automobile and make this a bicycle-only country.

If he were to drive this Audi S4, he would never utter such blasphemy again.

That’s because the S4 may very well be the perfect performance car. With 333 horsepower, it’s extremely fast, it corners as if its tires are coated in Stickum and it rides smoothly enough that grandmama wouldn’t complain. Its back seat is habitable by real adults and it has enough trunk space – 12.4 cubic feet – to handle a long weekend’s worth of bags for a pair of couples. With Quattro all-wheel drive, you can even slap a set of winter tires on it and ditch your winter car.

Powering Through Anything!

OK, in a day when fuel economy is becoming so much more important, the S4 does enjoy swilling more than its share of high-test petrol, but one time planting your foot to the floor at a light and you’ll momentarily forget that the next stop will involve refueling.

If Audi follows through with plans not to build an RS version of the A4 sedan, the S4 will stand as the highest-performance version of the car. On the horsepower count, that leaves the S4 looking up at its Mercedes and BMW competition. But all-wheel drive is the great equalizer in acceleration sprints, meaning the S4 should keep up with the Mercedes C63 AMG and BMW M3 in stoplight showdowns.

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Wyoming Has Highest Auto Repair Costs

An ounce of prevention.

by on Jun.26, 2012

Repair costs vary widely, not only by brand but also by location, according to a new study.

We all know that it can rapidly drain your wallet getting repairs done on some of the more exotic imports, but even for mainstream brands repair costs can quickly add up if you’re out of warranty.  And a new study suggests that no matter what product you own costs will vary widely depending upon where you live.

Somewhat surprisingly, though, it’s not New York or California that top the list, according to a new survey by auto repair website CarMD.  A study based on 163,000 repairs made by ASE-certified technicians found that Wyoming motorists paid the highest cost in the country for repairs triggered by that dreaded dashboard “Check Engine” warning light.

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On average, repairs averaged $389.18 for Wyoming residents, about 17% more than the national average.  By comparison, the lowest-cost shops were located in Indiana, where repairs for the same work came in at about $100 less – an average $283.95.

Curiously, nine of the 10 most expensive states were located out West, according to CarMD, the exception being tenth-ranked New Jersey.

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That’s Gen-N, as in “Neutral.”

Disinterested young consumers a drag on car sales.

by on Jun.26, 2012

Automakers are struggling to find a way to get Millennials out of neutral with concepts like the Chevrolet Code-130R.

U.S. auto sales are expected to show modest gains for June when the numbers are tallied up, but while the industry may be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise weak recovery, car sales are still lagging almost 3 million units annually below where they were a decade ago.

And a new study suggests that we won’t be seeing those old peaks anytime soon.  But don’t blame the economy, according to AlixPartners, a financial advisory firm based in Detroit. Blame the folks that the firm’s managing partner John Hoffecker calls “Gen-N.” That’s “N,” as in “Neutral about driving.”

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These are “new drivers who are really not even interested in getting a license,” explained Hoffecker.

AlixPartners’ new study echoes other recent research that finds so-called Millennials are far less committed to owning a car than Gen-Xers or, especially Baby Boomers.  They are, in fact, about six times less likely to get a driver’s license during their teens.  And even when they do they are less likely to purchase a vehicle.

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New Audi Chief Aims to Topple Luxury Leaders

“We want to be the definitive luxury brand.”

by on Jun.26, 2012

Audi of America's new boss, Scott Keogh, sees significant opportunities ahead.

Long an also-ran in the U.S. luxury market, Audi is aiming to topple the established upscale leaders, said the brand’s new American CEO.

The target is to nearly double overall sales to 200,000 annually – while making sure it captures a larger share of customers willing to spend $70,000 to $80,000 for new vehicles like the top-line A8, Scott Keogh, the new president and CEO of Audi of America stressed during his first press in the new job.

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“We want to be the definitive luxury brand in America and outsell BMW and Mercedes-Benz,” said Keogh, as he outlined the brand’s plans for the near future.

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Honda Named Automotive Brand of the Year

Surges past Ford, Toyota in new Harris Poll.

by on Jun.26, 2012

Despite some early criticism, the 2012 Honda Civic has helped the maker recover from recent problems.

Honda is the strongest automotive brand in the U.S. market, according to a new Harris Poll, surging past such perennial leaders as Ford and Toyota.  Meanwhile, Mercedes is the top luxury brand, according to the 2012 Harris EquiTrend study.

Honda’s surge to the top, toppling last year’s leader Ford, is significant considering the challenges the maker has been facing.  It is still recovering from last year’s inventory shortages that followed Japan’s devastating March earthquake and tsunami, and it has been hammered by mixed reviews of recent product updates, such as the 2012 Civic remake – while also suffering from a series of image-damaging recalls.

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Nonetheless, Honda received the highest score of any automaker based on a survey of thousands of American motorists.  The study looked at such factors as brand awareness and perceptions about quality and purchase consideration.

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