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Archive for October, 2013

Poor Credit Record Can Double Your Auto Insurance Costs

Even an “average” score can raise premiums.

by on Oct.31, 2013

Too many bills? Too much credit card debt? That can impact your insurance rate. Photo Courtesy: InsuranceRates.com

Here’s another reason not to let those bills go unpaid: damaging your credit record can add significantly to the cost of operating your automobile.

A new study reveals that drivers with poor insurance scores pay nearly twice as much for auto insurance as those with excellent scores. Even those with average ratings can wind up paying a premium, according to the report prepared for InsuranceQuotes.com.

“Considering all of the factors that go into car insurance rates, credit is actually one of the easiest to control,” said Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst, InsuranceQuotes.com.

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Insurance scores are very similar to the credit scores that can influence whether you can get a car loan, for example, and what inter rate you’ll pay.  Both are calculated using such factors as credit card balances, late payments and credit inquiries, though insurance companies use a proprietary scoring strategy and are looking to predict the likelihood that you might file a claim in the future.

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Cadillac Considers More Battery-Car Options

Maker also developing business plan for Elmiraj concept.

by on Oct.31, 2013

Cadillac is looking at adding other battery-based vehicles that would follow the ELR plug-in, shown here.

Even though its new plug-in hybrid, the Cadillac ELR, is still nearly two months from launch, the Detroit luxury maker is giving serious thought to adding more battery-based vehicles to its line-up, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.

Other models could include an even larger and more upscale offering than the compact ELR, confided Caddy’s global sales chief Bob Ferguson, who said the technology could generate significant interest among buyers – both at home and abroad – who don’t have General Motors’ flagship brand on their radar screens.

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In a wide-ranging discussion, Ferguson also told TheDetroitBureau.com that there is growing support inside GM for transforming the well-reviewed Elmiraj concept vehicle into a production vehicle – and as quickly as possible, though formal corporate approval is not yet a certainty.

“I’m so optimistic about how well (the Cadillac ELR plug-in) will do, especially on the West Coast and in the Northeast,” said Ferguson during a one-on-one discussion with TheDetroitBureau.com. “It will bring us a lot of new customers, I’m sure.”

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GM’s Desire to Make Buying Cars Online Easier May Anger Dealers

Attempts to circumvent showrooms put dealer body on edge.

by on Oct.31, 2013

GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson wants to make it easier to buy new cars on the Internet.

General Motors CEO Dan Akerson may have inadvertently woken up the automaker’s dealer base when he said the company wanted to make it easier to buy a vehicle online.

“We want people to start buying cars over the Internet,” said Akerson during the company’s third-quarter earnings conference call.

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Perhaps in an attempt to placate dealers before they rallied the troops against the idea, he added that the automaker had no plans to “bypass our dealers” while doing it. (more…)

US Traffic Fatalities Fall Sharply During 1st Half of 2013

Road deaths down 4.2% – reversing upward surge in 2012.

by on Oct.31, 2013

Experts credit better safety technology for at least some of the reduction in highway fatalities.

U.S. traffic deaths fell by 4.2% during the first half of 2013, according to preliminary figures from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, reversing an unexpected upward surge the previous year.

The federal safety agency still estimated that 15,470 people died in all forms of motor vehicle crashes between January 1 and June 30, though that was down from the 16,150 fatalities reported during the first half of 2012. Some states, such as Ohio, are on track to have their lowest death tolls since record keeping began on a per-mile basis.

Measured in terms of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled, the rate for the first six months of the year dipped to 1.06, down from 1.10 fatalities during the first half of 2012.

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There had been some concern that the total fatality count might rise as the economy recovers, a traditional pattern that reflects more Americans taking to the road – particularly during the dangerous rush hour periods.  Government and industry officials are studying the surprising reversal to see what has contributed, instead, to the decline in deaths.

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Nissan to Offer Both Old, New Versions of Rogue

“Rogue Select” to remain through 2014, possibly 2015.

by on Oct.31, 2013

The new 2014 version of the Rogue - which is now Nissan's second most popular model.

Nissan is planning to sell two different versions of the Nissan Rogue by offering both a new model and the old version of the popular crossover vehicle which competes directly with products such as the Honda CRV and the Ford Escape.

The completely redesigned 2014 Rogue, which is being built at Nissan’s big assembly complex in Smyrna, Tenn. will begin reaching U.S. showrooms starting in mid-November.

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Since it was first introduced for the 2008 model-year, the Rogue has become Nissan’s second most popular vehicle after the Altima by addressing the functional and emotional needs of the buyers, according to Pierre Loing, Nissan vice president of product development, while offering great value.

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Sneak Peek: Subaru Levorg Concept

New sport tourer set for Tokyo debut.

by on Oct.30, 2013

A sleek look for the clunky-sounding Subaru Levorg Concept coming to Tokyo next month.

It’s not the sort of name that rolls easily off the tongue, perhaps, but Subaru is hoping folks will bite when it rolls out the Levorg concept at the Tokyo Motor Show next month.

The Japanese maker explains that the name given this sport tourer prototype is shorthand for “Legacy,” “Revolution” and “Touring.” But what likely will matter is the way the sheet metal looks when it rolls out in mid-November, and the teaser images suggest this is not the classic Subaru box design.

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The good news is that the Fuji Heavy brand will also roll out an assortment of other concept, including the 3-row Crossover 7 Concept and the Cross Sport Design Concept, the first of which could give a hint of the model planned to replace the distinctly unloved Subaru Tribeca, which will finish up its largely unnoticed run at the end of the 2014 model-year.  We’ll also see an updated version of the Viziv hybrid concept first shown at the Geneva Motor Show last March.

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Chrysler Wants IPO Ready by Year-End

“That horse left the barn,” says CEO Marchionne.

by on Oct.30, 2013

Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne at an awards ceremony for suppliers.

After repeatedly delaying plans for a public stock offering and then suggesting Fiat might sever its ties with Chrysler if it went ahead with an IPO, the CEO of the two automakers now says he’s ready to put the process into overdrive.

“That horse left the barn,” Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne told reporters and analysts during a news conference called to discuss the maker’s third-quarter earnings. “We are now bent on executing the IPO.  I hope that we can get it done by the end of this year.”

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Fiat initially acquired a 20% stake in the U.S. maker following Chrysler’s emergence from bankruptcy in mid-2009.  Through a series of steps it has increased its holdings to 58.5%, and Marchionne has repeatedly expressed Fiat’s interest in acquiring the remaining 41.5% held by a union retiree health care trust. But the two sides are battling over the worth of the United Auto Workers Union’s holdings in a Delaware court and the union is now pressing to let the market set the price with an IPO.

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New Battery Deal Could Boost Tesla Production

Fires, stock slump seem to be having little impact on demand.

by on Oct.30, 2013

Despite some recent snags, there are no signs the Model S is losing sales momentum.

It’s been a rough month for high-flying Tesla Motors, but despite a pair of fires and several downgrades by industry analysts, the California electric vehicle maker remains upbeat enough to ink a deal that will substantially boost the number of batteries it buys from Japan’s Panasonic Corp.

That, in turn, suggests that Tesla is expecting to sell significantly more of its vehicles than it originally expected. It has already delayed the launch of a second vehicle, the Model X SUV, to catch up on demand for its initial offering, the Model S sedan.

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“This expanded agreement with Panasonic is important to Tesla as we continue to increase the pace of production,” the maker’s co-founder and CEO Elon Musk said in a statement. “We look forward to strengthening our relationship with Panasonic, and I’m confident that this partnership will continue to be an integral part of Tesla’s success for years to come.”

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Volkswagen Rides U.S., China Sales to Operational Profit Increase

Poor European sales, other expenditures crush net income.

by on Oct.30, 2013

VW's Martin Winterkorn said the company's goals for the year remain unchanged despite difficulties in Europe.

Volkswagen AG rode U.S. and China sales to a 20% increase in operational profits in the third quarter despite a 3.8% drop in revenue. However, the company’s net profit dropped to $2.6 billion (1.9 billion euros) from $15.6 billion (11.3 billion euros).

Operational profits, which are profits before taxes and interest, rose to $3.8 billion (2.78 billion euros) from 2.32 billion euros.

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Group deliveries increased by 4.8% to 7.2 million vehicles worldwide. The Group’s share of the passenger car market rose year-on-year to 12.7% from 12.6%. (more…)

GM Earnings Fall By Over Half for Q3

Maker hurt by restructuring costs; buoyed by European improvement.

by on Oct.30, 2013

The surge in truck sales -- the 2014 Chevy Silverado shown here -- helped prop up GM's bottom line.

General Motors reported its net income was cut in half during the third quarter as one-time adjustments for restructuring the company’s debt reduced profits to $700 million from the $1.5 billion reported for the same period a year ago.

Despite the drop income, GM chairman and chief executive officer Dan Akerson said he was satisfied that GM was still making steady progress as its North America Operations, where margins surpassed 9%, continued to show strength. And the maker also saw an improvement in its loss-making European operations as a new turnaround plan appeared to be taking hold.

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During the third quarter, GM said net income to common stockholders was $700 million, or 45 cents per fully diluted share, down from $1.5 billion, or 89 cents per share a year ago.  Investors appeared to be taking the results in stride, however, with GM shares up in early trading. Excluding the one-time items, GM would have earned $1.7 billion, or 96 cents a share. That was ahead of the 94-cent forecast of analysts surveyed by FactSet.

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