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Ford Focus is World’s Best-Selling Automobile

Ford nudges past Toyota, lands three in Top 10.

by on Apr.09, 2013

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

Ford Motor Co.’s increasing focus on global small cars apparently is paying off. Make that the Ford Focus which was the world’s best-selling automobile overall last year, according to new data from R.L. Polk & Company.

The Detroit maker’s compact model rang up more than 1 million sales last year, almost 17% more volume than Toyota recorded for its traditional sales leader, the compact Corolla model. Ford also scored at the other extreme, its big F-Series pickups collectively coming in third on the global sales list. In all, Ford landed three different models in the Top 10, including the sixth-ranked Fiesta subcompact.

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Toyota and Honda each had two models on the Polk chart, while Volkswagen and General Motors’ Chevrolet brand each had one. But the Top 10 list also included a new name likely not recognizable to most Westerners: China’s Wuling Zhiguang which generated 768,870 sales, landing just behind the F-Series in fourth place.


GM China Sales Top 2 Million For First Time

First maker to cross key milestone in a single year.

by on Nov.04, 2010

GM China President Kevin Wales.

General Motors set a significant milestone, last month, becoming the first automaker to ever sell more than 2 million cars in China during a single year, and giving the brand a nudge forward in its hard-fought battle to dominate the growing Asian market.

While car sales have “slowed” in China, in recent months, the numbers are still increasing at a double-digit pace and GM, in particular, recorded a 19.6% bump.  Falling just short of 200,000 vehicles, the month was an all-time record for the maker in what is now the single-largest national car market in the world.

“Over the past decade, China’s vehicle market has experienced unprecedented growth. GM has grown with it, working with our joint ventures to expand our lineup of vehicles and brands, adding to our portfolio of services, and increasing our production capacity to meet the changing needs of consumers nationwide,” proclaimed Kevin Wale, president of the GM China Group.

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The latest numbers come as a reminder of the maker’s controversial decision to enter the then-nascent Chinese market, 13 years ago.  Back then, few believed GM would be able to recover its initial investment in a new assembly plant to be built in the new, Pudon section of Shanghai.

As with other foreign makers hoping to tap China’s potential, GM was required to – and still must – partner with a domestic maker.  The original deal paired it with Shanghai-based SAIC, and their SGM unit saw a nearly 45% increase in sales last month.


A Diesel Running on Gasoline is Just as Sweet

By using compression ignition, a gasoline-fueled engine can be as efficient as an oil burner, and maybe less expensive.

by on May.21, 2009

Members of the GM's HCCI team preparing a prototype engine for testing.

Members of the GM's HCCI team preparing a prototype engine for testing.

The battle between the Otto cycle and the Diesel cycle in auto engines goes back more than 100 years. Diesels have a fuel economy advantage, roughly 20%, compared to traditional gasoline engines largely because of a higher compression ratio needed to ignite the fuel and the elimination of “pumping losses” caused during the intake stroke of a gasoline engine when it is operating at partial throttle.

However, the fuel injection system of a diesel and the heavier components required to hold up to the higher pressures make it much more expensive – these days thousands of dollars more – than a gasoline engine. Tighter emissions laws on cancer-causing particulate matter are adding to the expense and reducing fuel economy. Also, diesel fuel doesn’t ignite as readily as gasoline, which makes cold starting problematic.

As automakers continue the unending quest for greater fuel efficiency, a hybrid combination of diesel and gasoline engines is being studied to see if the best characteristics of both can be obtained.

One such initiative is going on at General Motors where a homogenous charge compression ignition (HCCI) engine is under study. An HCCI engine, when combined with other advanced technologies, can provide up to 15% greater fuel economy than a comparable, non-HCCI engine by using the diesel combustion process.

“HCCI delivers enhanced fuel savings without sacrificing the performance consumers have come to expect,” said Dr. Uwe Grebe, executive director for GM Powertrain Advanced Engineering.    (more…)