Friday, April 27, 2012

New Acura rolls off the line in Indiana

Honda has begun building a new model, the Acura ILX, at an assembly plant in Greensburg, Ind. “This all-new Acura luxury sedan is closely linked to the future of Acura,” said Jeff Conrad, vice president and general manager of Acura for American Honda.  “Just as the Acura ILX is the gateway to the Acura brand. The new Acura ILX sedan is considered critical to the Acura lineup and comes with both gasoline and gas-electric hybrid powertrain options.. The Indiana plant will produced three  diifferent versions of the Acura ILX – a 150-horsepower, 4-cylinder 2.0-liter model, a 201-horsepower 2.4-liter model with 6-speed manual transmission, and the ILX Hybrid, with a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine, according to Honda officials. The gasoline engines for the 2,0- and 2.4-liter versions of Acura ILX come from the Anna, Ohio, engine plant of Honda of America Mfg. Inc.  The hybrid version of the Acura ILX is Acura’s first-ever hybrid model, the first hybrid vehicle to be made in America at a Honda plant, and the first Acura model to be produced in Indiana. The Acura ILX joins the TL sedan, ZDX crossover vehicle, and the MDX and RDX sport-utility vehicles as the fifth Acura model produced exclusively in North America. By Joseph Szczesny

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Test of plug-in minivans underway at Chrysler

 Chrysler Group has the launched the second phase of its test of experimental  plug in hybrid electric minivans by three to the municipal utility district in Sacramento, Calif.  PHEVs will be used to evaluate city drive cycles, thermal and charging performance, fuel economy and real-world performance. Tweny-five plug-in hybrid Chrysler Town & Country minivans now in service as the data-collection phase of Chrysler Group LLC's plug-in hybrid minivan project begins in earnest with the completion of the demonstration fleet's deployment.
"The focus now shifts from engineering design and development of this unique technology, to real-world testing and evaluation," said Abdullah Bazzi, senior manager of Chrysler Group's advanced hybrid vehicle project.
The plug-in hybrids will be subjected to "temperature extremes and variations of drive cycles," Bazzi said, adding resulting data will shed light on customer acceptance of the technology and its impact on the grid. Other deployments are in Arizona, North Carolina and Michigan, Bazzi said. By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Jeep to sponsor USA's Olympic basketball team

  Jeep has signed on to become one of the official sponsors of the USA  men's and women's national basketball teams.  As part of the deal,  the Jeep brand will launch a full advertising and marketing campaign, starting next weekend.  The Jeep brand also announced the introduction of a  special edition model, the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Altitude Edition, which will be featured in the new "Power Within" campaign. The Wrangler also has been designated the official vehicle of the men's and women's basket ball team.The Jeep brand NBA start Chris Paul, as its spokesman for this partnership. In this role, Paul will be featured in the Jeep brand's advertising campaign and appear in a series of video vignettes that will give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at various facets of the partnership with USA Basketball.
"The Jeep brand has always been associated with the American spirit and as a member of the 2012 USA Men's Basketball National Team, I am proud to serve as spokesman for Jeep's partnership with USA Basketball," stated Chris Paul.  "'Power Within' is a mantra for our time as it is a reminder that power with purpose is timeless," said Olivier Francois, Chief Marketing Officer - Chrysler Group LLC.  "From its visual elements to its selected music, the campaign is designed to inspire viewers to do what it takes to find their inner power." Francois said.  By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Honda getts honored for used car values

Honda has once again been honored for the relatively high value of  company's vehicle when they are sold or traded in as used vehicles. Honda has captured the 2012 Best Retained Value Award for the second consecutive year from Honda was named the top non-luxury brand in the Best Retained Value Awards for maintaining the highest projected residual value after five years of ownership as a percentage of value when new.
"Honda's focus on retail sales has always benefitted our most important client: Honda customers," said John Mendel, executive vice president of sales for American Honda. "This valuable award from is recognition of Honda's unending mission of providing true value to customers - one that extends well beyond the showroom."
"Honda has long had a reputation for dependable used vehicles, and that is reflected in today's booming used car market," said Joe Spina, director of remarketing at "Honda's family of vehicles continues to expand the company's status as one of the best values available to car buyers today," Spina said. By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

EVs can curb greenhouse gas regardless of electricity source

 A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists says no matter where one lives in the United States, electric vehicles can help  reducing global warming emissions and saving money on fueling up. While emissions levels associated with the electricity an EV consumes  vary widely by region,depending  on the fuel used to produce electricity at  local power plants, drivers can expect to reduce emissions compared to average gasoline-powered vehicles. Critics of EVs have argued electric vehicles do nothing to reduce global warming if they use electricity from coal- or oil-burning power plants.
Broken down by category and divided by electric grid regions, the UCS  analysis concludes that in every part of the country, EVs outperform most gasoline-powered vehicles when it comes to global warming emissions. The analysis breaks the country into regions that are ‘good,’ ‘better,’ or ‘best’ for an EV.
“This report shows drivers should feel confident that owning an electric vehicle is a good choice for reducing global warming pollution, cutting fuel costs, and slashing oil consumption,” said Don Anair, the report’s author and senior engineer for UCS’s Clean Vehicles Program. “Those in the market for a new car may have been uncertain how the global warming emissions and fuel costs of EVs stack up to gasoline-powered vehicles. Now, drivers can for the first time see just how much driving an electric vehicle in their hometown will lower global warming emissions and save them money on fuel costs.”
While the environmental benefits of driving an EV vary depending on where the driver charges the EV, electric grids across the country are getting cleaner. In fact, 29 states and the District of Columbia are implementing renewable electricity standards while a greater number of older and dirtier coal plants are retired.
Even in regions where coal dominates the electricity grid, EVs are still ‘good’ when it comes to global warming emissions. In parts of the Rocky Mountains region, driving an EV produces global warming emissions equivalent to a gasoline vehicle with a fuel economy rating of 33 mpg, similar to the best non-hybrid compact gasoline vehicles available today – all while cutting our nation’s oil consumption.
“The good news is that as the nation’s electric grids get cleaner, consumers who buy an EV today can expect to see their car’s emissions go down over the lifetime of the vehicle,” said Anair.
Most of Michigan falls in a ‘good‘ region, with the emissions from charging on the regional grid equal to a 38 mpg gasoline vehicle. However, a proposal that may be on the ballot this fall could help change that. It would require that 25 percent of Michigan’s energy come from clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass by 2025, boosting the state’s current standard of 10 percent by 2015 and helping to ensure that the electricity grid, and EV charging, gets cleaner. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, April 16, 2012

Ford EV to pace NASCAR race

 The all-new Focus Electric will make history of sorts later this month when it become the first  EV to serve as a pace car for a NASCAR race. The Ford Electric will serve as the pace at the  Richmond International Raceway on April 28. "Ford research shows the majority of Americans would consider buying an electrified vehicle but do not yet understand the different technologies," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "Highlighting the Focus Electric as a pace car is a fun way to educate consumers about the kinds of benefits our electrified vehicles deliver and show people our commitment to provide Ford customers the power of choice for leading fuel economy in the vehicle that best meets their needs - from EcoBoost®-powered gasoline vehicles and hybrids to plug-in hybrids and full electrics."
  Approximately 35 percent of new car intenders are motorsports fans and 78 percent of them support NASCAR, according to Ford research. Additionally, Ford race fans are 67 percent more likely to consider Ford products than general market consumers. 

 Field said the race at Richmond will be only the latest in a line of groundbreaking moments for Ford in NASCAR. In addition to being the first manufacturer to compete with a four-door sedan as its flagship model in 1998, Ford was also first to use a hybrid to start a NASCAR event when the Fusion Hybrid served as pace car for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008. By Joseph Szczesny

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

New car buyers looking for efficiency, whih keeps tabs on trends in the automotive business,  reported the actual fuel economy numbers from March light vehicle auto sales indicate the miles per gallon of new vehicles purchased last month increased to 23.4 mpg compared to 22.0 mpg in March 2011. The also increased from February 2012 at 23.2 mpg. Just four years ago, in March 2008, mpg was an estimated 20.3 mpg.
 Gas prices are nearing $4 per gallon nationwide and consumers are getting reluctant to pay any additional money at the pump when buying a new vehicle,” said Jesse Toprak, Vice President of Market Intelligence at “Consumer buying behavior has shifted and vehicles today are more fuel-efficient than ever, contributing to significant gains in fuel economy of over three miles per gallon since 2008.”  By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mercedes-Benz get 'Green Ca' honor

 Mercedes-Benz S 250 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY comes out on top of field of 22 hybrids and electric vehicles to walk off with the honors for  “2012 World Green Car of the Year.”
Thomas Weber, Board of Management, responsible for  Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, noted, “.With fuel consumption of only 41.3 miles per gallon. the S250 CDI is the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan in the world. Mercedes’ win this year was a repeat performance for their clean diesel technology following the 2007 World Green Car Award to the Mercedes BlueTEC E320.  The World Green Car competition factored in tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption, and use of a major advanced power plant technology aimed specifically at increasing the vehicle’s environmental responsibility. The World Car of the Year experts commented that, “This is the first 4-cylinder S-Class in the 60-year history of the legendary model. Powered by a 204 horse power this S-Class develops ample power from the world’s cleanest diesel, while the incorporation of a start-stop system means that this car produces an outstanding 149g/km of CO2, judges who reviewed the merits of the 22 vehicles in the competition.
 This award is made all the more important this year since this clean diesel CDI BlueEFFICIENCY Mercedes beat out an incredible field of 22 contenders of gasoline hybrids and even several all-electric vehicles.
“Not only is this is a great acknowledgment of Mercedes’ long-standing leadership in diesel technology, but it is an important symbolic victory and signal to policymakers and consumers that clean diesel technology is among the very best in advanced fuel efficient technology vehicles for our future, and a key part of any ’all of the above’ energy strategy for fuel savings and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” noted Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum,  which promotes the use of diesel technology. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, April 9, 2012

Hybrid don't always bring repeat business

 A new study by R.L. Polk of Southfield indicates, while the selection of hybrid models in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2007, only 35 percent of hybrid vehicle owners choose to purchase a hybrid again when returning to market in 2011.
 "Having a hybrid in the product lineup can certainly give a brand a competitive edge when it comes to attracting new customers," noted Brad Smith, director of Polk's Loyalty Management Practice. "The repurchase rates of hybrid vehicles are an indication that consumers are continuing to seek alternative solutions to high fuel prices," he added.
 Hybrid owners also appear to remain brand loyal when returning to the new car market. Roughly 60 percent of Toyota hybrid owners returned to the market to purchase another Toyota, according to Polk, while 41 percent of them purchased another hybrid from any brand.  In the case of Honda hybrid owners, more than 52 percent of them stayed with the Honda brand, while just under 20 percent of this same owner group bought another hybrid vehicle from any brand.
Online cross-shopping data from indicates that consumers are doing their due diligence to compare hybrids with similar gasoline-powered vehicles.  As an example, the Honda Civic is the second most cross-shopped vehicle among both Toyota Prius and Honda Insight shoppers. Overall, hybrid vehicles represent just 2.4 percent of the overall new vehicle market in the U.S., according to Polk, down from a high of 2.9 percent in 2008.
"The lineup of alternate-drive vehicles and their premium price points just aren't appealing enough to consumers to give the segment the momentum it once anticipated, especially given the growing strength of fuel economy among compact and midsize competitors," according to Lacey Plache, chief economist. "For EVs and PHEVs in particular, certain obstacles -- including consumer unease with unfamiliar technology and the lack of an adequate recharging infrastructure -- will need to be overcome before sales increase."
Polk also found that consumers in traditional eco-friendly markets in the U.S. such as  Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland, Ore. and Seattle, are no more loyal to hybrid vehicles than the nation at large.  By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, April 6, 2012

Ranger Rove wins design award in New York

The Range Rover Evoque was crowned World Design Car of the Year 2012 during the press preview for the annual New York Auto Show. The Evoque's had alread caputred 100 awards from around the world before the latest honor.
 "We are honored that the Range Rover Evoque has been named 2012 World Design Car of the Year.” said Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Design Director said. “This prestigious accolade recognizes the overwhelmingly positive response that we have received to the Range Rover Evoque's bold and dramatic design. It is a car that truly resonates on an emotional level," he said.
 The award is testament to the  Evoque' unique design and recognizes the fact that the dynamic new Range Rover has created a new segment of the market to world-wide acclaim.” he added.
The Range Rover Evoque was shortlisted from an original 46 nominations and beat off stiff competition from the two other finalists - the Citroen DS5 and the Volkswagen Up! The design of Evoque’s design was foreshadowed by a concept car developed when Range Rover was part of the Ford Motor Co.
 Juror Silvia Baruffaldi commented, "True to the concept car it derives from, it is a contemporary automotive design masterpiece. Besides not having equals on the markets, it is able to deliver the Land Rover DNA in a more compact, sporty body style. A premium product without the bad habit of showing off."  By Joseph Szczesny

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Porsche named 'coolest' brand

Porsche was again named the coolest brand and best performance in the United States by Kelley Blue Book, a leading provider of new-and used-car information. The 2012 Brand Image Awards are based on consumer automotive perception data collected by Kelley, which surveys more than 12,000 shoppers each year via the Brand WatchTM study hosted on Kelley Blue Book’s The Brand Watch study analyzes new-vehicle shoppers’ perceptions of brands and the factors that influence their vehicle-purchasing decisions.
“We hold these awards in high esteem,” said Detlev von Platen, president and CEO of Porsche Cars North America. “Since they are based solely on consumer perspectives and backed by a trusted source like Kelley Blue Book, receiving not only one, but two 2012 Brand Image Awards is one of the most rewarding ways to receive brand accolades and recognition.”
 This is the fifth year Kelley has conducted the Brand Image Awards and the second time that Porsche has won the Coolest Brand and Best Performance Brand categories. “With standout vehicles, memorable marketing and positive word of mouth, the winners of Kelley Blue Book’s 2012 Brand Image Awards have secured enviable positions in the minds of in-market shoppers.” said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s