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Archive for December, 2012

Ford Focus Expected to Be #1 Best-Seller for 2012

Maker expects U.S. sales to top 2.2 million.

by on Dec.31, 2012

The Ford Focus appears to have toppled the long-running global best-seller, the Toyota Corolla.

Ford Motor Co. expects to sell 2.2 million Ford brand vehicles in the U.S. when sales numbers are totaled for 2012. It will make this the second straight year Ford has topped the 2 million mark. Ford is also the only automotive brand to top 2 million U.S. sales since 2007 – and the only auto brand expected to surpass that mark in America this year.

In addition, the Ford Focus is expected to remain the best-selling global vehicle nameplate, based on the latest available R.L. Polk new vehicle registration data through September, toppling long-time sales king the Toyota Corolla.  Meanwhile, the Ford Fiesta is on track to be the best-selling global B-car.

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Ford is also the only automaker with three vehicle nameplates in the global top 10 – Focus at number 1, F-Series at number 4 and Fiesta at number 5 – based on the latest available Polk new vehicle registration data.

That would position Ford as the leader – if year-end data holds course – in two of the global market’s most critical segments. And the B- and C-car segments are posting significant growth in the U.S., as well.

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Will Car Sales Plunge Off the Fiscal Cliff?

Washington’s deadlock could kill auto industry momentum.

by on Dec.31, 2012

GM Chairman Dan Akerson: "quite concerned" about the fast-approaching fiscal cliff.

Preliminary estimates suggest December will be one of the best months the U.S. auto industry has seen in years, with sales up by as much as 15% year-over-year – but in the final hours of 2012 industry officials seem worried that the good times could be over all too soon.

As one of the most expensive items a consumer will buy – and as a discretionary purchase that usually can be postponed – analysts anticipate the auto industry will see a severe drop-off in demand if Washington lawmakers fail to meet the midnight deadline and send the U.S. economy hurtling over the so-called fiscal cliff.

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“We’re watching (the negotiations in Congress) very closely,” General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said this month, adding that he is “quite concerned” there won’t be a settlement in time to prevent a sharp rise in taxes for the average American – along with significant cuts in critical spending programs.

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Approval of Toyota Settlement Doesn’t End Unintended Acceleration Nightmare

Maker still faces potential billions in claims for injuries, deaths.

by on Dec.31, 2012

Will Toyota settle the remaining unintended acceleration cases to keep pictures like this crash scene out of the headlines?

A federal judge in suburban Los Angeles has given his preliminary approval to a settlement estimated to be worth as much as $1.4 billion in a collection of cases involving the unintended acceleration of Toyota Motor Co. products – but the deal only resolves what one observer described as the “easy” part of the litigation facing the Japanese giant.

If given the court’s final okay sometime next year, the agreement would resolve claims that the unintended acceleration problems led to a sharp decline in the value of Toyota vehicles.

But it does not resolve scores of additional claims filed by those who allege they were injured during “runaway car” crashes or on behalf of others who were killed.

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The new Toyota settlement resolves “an economic value lawsuit,” stresses Joe Phillippi, of AutoTrends Consulting.  And while that may involve the majority of the lawsuits Toyota was facing, he notes it’s “the highly emotional lawsuits yet to be heard.  And when you start parading in front of a jury grizzly images of people injured or killed that makes for great headlines.”

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Show Brings World-class Automotive Art to Detroit

Co-organizers hoping to turn show into an international art display.

by on Dec.31, 2012

While you’re downtown for this year’s Detroit auto show, make some time to stop by the Compuware Building, to see works by some of the world’s best automotive artists.

This will be the second-annual Detroit Knows Cars Automobile Art Exhibit. It runs Jan. 10-27 in the Compuware lobby.

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“More than a dozen artists for whom the automobile is a central theme present their amazing works in this free public space,” co-organizer Steve Purdy said.

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Hyundai Sonata Sets Sales Record

Little impact from fuel economy flap.

by on Dec.28, 2012

Hyundai's Sonata sets another sales record.

Even with a big weekend to go, sales of the Hyundai Sonata have already an all-time record, surpassing the 225,961 sales the midsize sedan logged in its record-setting performance last year. Sonata joins the Elantra, Veloster, Genesis, and Equus in setting all-time sales records for Hyundai in 2012, the maker confirmed.

Significantly, the maker has shown little sign of losing sales momentum despite word last month that it — and Korean sibling Kia — had fudged their fuel economy numbers.

With the year wrapping up at a significantly hotter pace than most analysts had anticipated, Hyundai is by no means alone. Among the makers who have been setting sales records in recent months are Audi, BMW, Porsche and Subaru. And more likely will join the list when December sales are tallied.

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Car sales this month are expected to grow by better than 10% — and possibly more than 15% — despite wavering consumer confidence brought on by a lack of a budget and tax deal in Washington D.C.

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Beyonce to Get New C7 Corvette at Super Bowl

Singer will serenade new model during halftime show.

by on Dec.28, 2012

Beyonce will help launch the new C7 Corvette during the upcoming Super Bowl.

It’s easy to forget that there’s actually a football game going on during the Super Bowl, what with all the attention paid to the high-profile commercials and the big name acts that anchor the annual halftime show.

But Chevrolet is hoping that it can be a real Super Bowl stand-out despite General Motors much-publicized decision to yank its ads from the upcoming event. In a creative compromise with the NFL, the Detroit maker plans to place its all-new 2014 Corvette on the 50-yard line during the halftime show and present it to this year’s celebrity performer Beyonce, sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com.

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GM officials would not confirm for the record their involvement in the 2013 game, Chevrolet spokesman Mike Albano only noting that, “We’ve got a history of being involved with the Super Bowl.”

That involvement was originally set to end, however. Last May, former GM global marketing czar Joel Ewanick announced that, due to rising costs he called unjustifiable, the maker would not advertise during Super Bowl XLVII.

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Nissan Expanding Warranty on Leaf Batteries

Maker aims to improve “confidence” in electric vehicle’s long-term reliability.

by on Dec.28, 2012

Nissan hopes to overcome concerns about the long-term reliability of the Leaf's batteries.

Hoping to quell any concerns about the long-term reliability of its Leaf electric vehicle, Nissan will extend the warranty on the car to ensure customers that the Leaf’s batteries will be repaired or replace if they fall below a set level of performance.

The move will cover both new products and those Nissan has already sold since launching the battery-electric vehicle in late 2010. The extended warranty was triggered, in part, by concerns among a small group of owners in the Arizona desert who worried their batteries were losing capacity more quickly than anticipated.

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“Our research has shown the cars are where we’d expect them to be,” Dave Reuter, chief U.S. spokesman for Nissan told TheDetroitBureau.com. A certain amount of battery loss, he stressed, “is normal over time…but we want those battery car advocates to have more confidence in their batteries.”

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Ford Faces Lawsuit Alleging “False” Mileage Claims

Concerns growing about the gap between advertised and real-world mileage.

by on Dec.27, 2012

Ford's mileage claims for the C-Max Hybrid have come under question.

Ford Motor Co. is facing a class action lawsuit alleging the maker’s mileage claims for two new hybrid models are “false and misleading.”

The maker has made fuel economy a major part of its advertising pitch for new products, notably including the 2013 C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid models. But its official ratings have come in for criticism, notably from such influential sources as Consumer Reports magazine.

But Ford is by no means alone. Korean siblings Kia and Hyundai recently had to roll back their own mileage numbers by as much as 6 mpg after conceding they fudged the official government testing process.

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“In its advertising and marketing campaign for the vehicles, Ford claimed that the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid achieved a class leading 47 Miles Per Gallon,” reads part of the lawsuit filed by California-based law firm McCuneWright. “These materials helped Ford achieve record sales for the first two months of C-MAX Hybrid sales, outselling its rival, hybrid sales leader Toyota, but there was a problem. These ads were false.”

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Ford Investing $6.2 Billion, Creating 12,000 New Jobs

Plan aimed to “ensure our aggressive growth plans.”

by on Dec.27, 2012

A Ford worker at the Flat Rock Assembly plant.

Ford Motor Co. plans to invest $6.2 billion to expand its U.S. manufacturing base, a move that will help it save 3,240 existing jobs and add another 12,000 positions by 2015.

A large chunk of the investment will go into the maker’s home state of Michigan which will see the addition of 2,350 new jobs.

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“These investments, many of which are already under way, will ensure our southeast Michigan manufacturing facilities can support our aggressive growth plans,” said Jim Tetreault, the Ford vice president in charge of North American manufacturing.

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Toyota Reaches $1 Bil Deal in Runaway Cars Case

Deal closes 100s of cases -- but 100s more still unresolved.

by on Dec.27, 2012

Lexus agreed to a record fine this month for delaying the recall of the RX crossover due to unintended acceleration issues.

Toyota Motor Co. has reached a more than $1 billion settlement intended to put an end to 100s of lawsuits stemming from the maker’s problems with unintended acceleration. But Toyota still faces a separate series of lawsuits from those who claim to have been injured by runaway vehicles.

The proposed settlement specifically covers lawsuits filed by owners who alleged that the value of their cars, trucks and crossovers had plummeted substantially as a result of the crisis triggered by a series of revelations and recalls that eventually involved more than 14 million Toyota products worldwide.

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The maker said it also will launch an extended warranty program covering 16 million current owners while also installing additional safety technology on 3.2 million of its vehicles. But in light of other recent recalls that have involved millions more Toyota products it remains unclear if the settlement will be enough to repair the Japanese giant’s once shining image.

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