Friday, December 28, 2012

Honda Accord in mid-size test, the online resource for buying and selling new and used cars, reports the 2013 Honda Accord as the winner of its editors' Midsize Sedan Showdown which pitted six of the most popular midsize sedans under $26,000 against each other in a series of tests. Other sedans tested include the 2013 Ford Fusion, 2013 Hyundai Sonata, 2013 Kia Optima, 2013 Nissan Altima and the 2012 Toyota Camry.

"Nearly one in six new cars sold today is a midsize family sedan," said Patrick Olsen,'s Editor-in-Chief. "Midsize sedans are some of the most popular cars you'll see on the road. We test many different types of cars, but the midsize Showdown is one of the most important ones we do, because it provides practical shopping advice and expert insight for those looking to buy."

Tests included 185 miles of driving on varying roads to determine actual fuel mileage for each sedan; one day of round-robin driving, where each expert tested each of the sedans back-to-back on the exact same course and a day of family testing, where our test family went car-to-car judging  seating, cargo, features and ride-quality.
"The Accord is one of the oldest and most trusted midsize sedans on the market," said Olsen. "With each redesign, the Accord continues to get better. The 2013 won our Showdown because of its high-end standard features, value for the money and great driving characteristics." By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hyundai Sonata chalks up new record

  Hyundai reports its mid-size Sonata broke its all-time yearly sales record this week, surpassing the 225,961 sales it logged in its record-setting performance in 2011 . Sonata joins the Elantra, Veloster, Genesis, and Equus in setting all-time sales records for Hyundai in 2012, Hyundai officials said.
"Sonata's redesign in early 2010 demonstrated that mid-size sedans that paired bold design and fuel-efficiency with long-time segment essentials such as roominess, safety and durability could really break through," said John Krafcik, president and CEO, Hyundai Motor America. 
Sonata's retail sales mix demonstrates the strength of its segment-first all-four-cylinder powertrain offering, including the well-equipped GLS, sport-focused SE, premium Limited, and fuel-efficient Hybrid.  Through November, 52 percent of Sonata sales were GLS, 18 percent SE, 22 percent Limited, and eight percent Hybrid.  Performance enthusiasts drove the mix of the 274-horsepower 2.0T turbo-charged model, available on both SE and Limited, to 13 percent of retail Sonata sales.
 In addition, while the mid-size segment as a whole experienced a significant 20 percent growth in fleet sales (primarily rental cars) in 2012, Sonata's record sales this year come with a lower fleet mix and fewer rental car sales than last year, dropping from an 11 percent fleet mix in 2011 to a projected 9 percent in 2012.
 Within the segment, only the Honda Accord had a lower fleet mix. Mid-size segment fleet sales will represent about 21 percent of total mid-size car sales in 2012. Most competitors, including those with all-new models, significantly increased sales to rental car companies and other fleets in 2012.
 Krafcik said Sonata's on-going sales success has been accompanied with not only low fleet mix but also very low incentive spending, yielding some of the highest residual values in the segment. According to Autodata, Sonata incentive spending through November is the lowest of all the top-ten best-selling mid-size sedans at just $1,350 per vehicle, more than 40 percent below segment average. By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, December 21, 2012

Toyota fined again

 The federal National Highway Traffice Safety Administration fined Toyota  $17.4 million, which is the maximum allowed under US law - for taking too long to report safety issues to authorities.
It is the fourth time in the past three years that the Japanese car giant has been fined by U.S. authorities. It paid $50 million in  fines in 2010 over its handling of car recalls. The new fine is for a recall in June of about 150,000 vehicles.
The carmaker has recalled more than 10 million vehicles this year.
Last month, Toyota announced it would recall 2.7 million cars worldwide because of problems with the steering wheel and water pump system.
In 2009 and 2010, Toyota recalled about 12 million vehicles, damaging its reputation for reliability.
"It's critical to the safety of the driving public that manufacturers report safety defects in a timely manner," said David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Strickland added Toyota had agreed to make changes to quality assurance and to review its safety procedures in the US as part of the settlement.The carmaker's chief quality officer Ray Tanguay said the company had agreed to pay the fine "in order to avoid a time-consuming dispute and to focus fully on our shared commitment with NHTSA to keep drivers safe." By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Boeing, BMW collaborate on carbon fiber research

Boeing  and the BMW Group are joining forces to collaborate on research into the use and resuse of high-tech materials. The two companies have agreed to signed an agreement to collaborate on  research on carbon fiber recycling and share knowledge about carbon fiber materials and manufacturing.

Boeing and BMW are both pioneering the use of carbon fiber in their products.  Boeing's 787 Dreamliner is made up of 50 percent carbon fiber material and BMW will introduce two vehicles with passenger compartments made of carbon fiber in 2013. Recycling composite material at point of use and the end of product life is critical to both companies.

"This collaboration agreement is a very important step forward in developing the use and end use of carbon fiber materials," said Larry Schneider, Commercial Airplanes vice president of Product Development, who represented Boeing at the signing in Seattle. "It is especially important that we plan for the end of life of products made from carbon fiber.  We want to look at ways to reclaim and reuse those materials to make new products.  Our work with BMW will help us attain that goal."

"Boeing for us is a suitable partner for collaboration in the field of carbon fiber," said BMW AG for Development Board Member Herbert Diess. "Boeing has many years of extensive experience using carbon fiber in the field of aviation, while the BMW Group has earned a significant competitive advantage through its use of special manufacturing methods for series production of carbon fiber parts. Through this cooperation, we can merge know-how between our industries in the field of sustainable production solutions."

As part of the collaboration agreement, Boeing and the BMW Group will also share carbon fiber manufacturing process simulations and ideas for manufacturing automation. 

BMW opened a plant in Moses Lake, Wash. in 2011 that will provide carbon fiber parts for the 2013 i3 and i8 models. Both new models will be assembled in Leipzig, Germany.  By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Thousands of cars lost during East Coast storm

 The National Insurance Crime Bureau said progress is being made in identifying and 
removing thousands of vehicles damaged beyond repair by Sandy. The estimate of 
230,000 insurance claims for vehicle damage in the areas affected by Sandy 
remains unchanged at this time.
 Many of those vehicles were flooded and are 
being towed to holding areas where they will be loaded on car haulers and taken 
to facilities to be crushed.
 Last week, representative from NCIB visited holding areas in Brooklyn where more than 
7,000 new vehicles awaiting delivery to dealerships had been parked when Sandy 
flooded the area with more than three feet of water. All but 800 cars had been 
removed. The vehicles suffered extensive damage as the wind and water shoved 
them into each other and flooded their electronic systems, damaging them beyond 
"New York City Police and the other law enforcement agencies around the area 
were understandably focusing on other emergencies and disaster efforts 
initially," said NICB New York Region Operations Director Thomas Lohmann. 
they have begun to address the issue of dealing with thousands of flooded and 
damaged vehicles, and they are doing an outstanding job of getting these 
vehicles towed to holding areas where they can be identified and accounted for 
prior to being scrapped. They are also going after towing companies that have 
taken cars off the street without permission, and are submitting outrageous 
towing and storage bills to insurance companies," he said. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lear prepares for new Jaguar F-Type

 With Jaguar coming closer to launching it's sporty new F-Type, Lear Corp. of Southfield, Mi.,  a leading global supplier of automotive seating and electrical power management systems, has been selected as a key supplier. Lear will open a new just-in-time seating plant near Coventry, Engleand.  Lear will initially hire more than 60 new employees to support Jaguar Land Rover's F-type launch in the first quarter of 2013, Lear official said

"I'm pleased to announce our new site that will open in the first quarter of 2013 at Lear's new Coventry location 1.5 miles north of Coventry city center," said Gideon Jewel, Lear President of Seating - Europe and Africa.  Lear has several facilities in the UK including a technical center and offices in Coventry. Earlier this year Lear officially opened a foam-manufacturing plant for vehicles in Sunderland.     By Joseph Szczesny

Friday, December 7, 2012

Top Gear cites Jaguar designer

   Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design, has been named one of TopGear magazine's Men of
the Year 2012, selected by its awards judging panel for "designing beautiful cars, again
and again." The accolade adds to Callum's international success this year, following the
worldwide acclaim for his design of the new Jaguar F-TYPE two-seater sports car
[ ], revealed at the Paris Motor Show in September.
    "The genius of Jaguar director of design Ian Callum isn't just in the classically
exact proportions of his cars, it's in the way they continue to intrigue and inspire long
after the initial novelty has worn off,"
TopGear noted.
    "In 2012 the erudite Scotsman... cemented his iconic status with the F-TYPE,
ironically as classic a Jaguar as there's been since Callum arrived there 12 years ago.
Who else could have penned such a worthy successor to the E-Type."
    Commenting on his selection, Callum said: "It's an honour to be singled out by TopGear
as one of their 'men of the year,' the magazine is respected internationally for its
insight and its enthusiasm for all aspects of cars and motoring. However, it is with the
benefit of having such a great team around me that we have been able to deliver the cars
and designs that define Jaguar today, so they, too, deserve recognition for what we are
achieving together," Callum said
    Since the introduction of the Aston Martin DB7, Ian Callum has been acknowledged as
one of the world's foremost design talents. Born in Dumfries, Scotland, Ian attended a
course in Industrial Design at Glasgow School of Art which was followed by a two-year
course in Automobile Design at the Royal College of Art. By Joseph Szczesny

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Motor Trends names Ram 1500 Truck of the Year.

December means awards and honors around the car business and the editors of Motor Trend have named the all-new 2013 Ram 1500 the magazine's 2013 Truck of the Year. The Ram has also is emerging as the leader in the race for the North American Truck of the Year, which will be settled just before the North American International Auto Show in January.
The Ram 1500 is built in the Detroit area at the Chrysler Truck assembly plant in Warren.
"The new Ram 1500 makes a powerful statement about our company and the Ram Truck Brand," said Fred Diaz, President and CEO Ram Truck Brand and Chrysler de Mexico. "Motor Trend's Truck of the Year is an amazing honor; truly one of the most prestigious awards an automaker can achieve. It reaffirms the fact that Ram has the best truck on the road today. "

Motor Trend editors praised the new 2013 Ram 1500 for its air suspension, choice of engines, variety of trim levels and towing capability.

"We had a small but solid field of contenders for Motor Trend's Truck of the Year," said Edward Loh, Editor-in-Chief of Motor Trend. "But in the end, the choice was clear: Ram 1500 not only withstood our rigorous testing, it impressed at every step along the way. Our judges were won over by the performance of Ram 1500's broad array of standard and optional equipment. It's a truck that can be tailored to meet most anyone's needs. For these reasons and more, we're excited to name the Ram 1500 the Motor Trend 2013 Truck of the Year."
For 2013, the new Ram 1500 offers buyers best-in-class 25 miles per gallon fuel efficiency, new technology and new features without sacrificing capability. Ram 1500-the most recognizable pickup on the road-marks a milestone for Ram as this truck delivers a truckload of pioneering and fuel-saving systems. Equipped with a choice of engines, including the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 engine or the award-winning Pentastar V-6, the Ram 1500 offers the best powertrains in the industry and are known for their reliability.

The 2013 Ram 1500 features first-in-segment technologies: eight-speed automatic transmission, stop-start system, thermal management system, pulse-width modulation and active aerodynamics, including grille shutters and active air suspension. The 2013 Ram 1500 is available in nine trim levels and starts at $23,585 including $995 destination charge.By Joseph Szczesny

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lutz to get new award at NAIAS from Eyes on Design

 Former General Motors and Chrysler excutive Robert Lutz will be honored next month  at the North American International Auto Show with an award from Eyes On Design. Eyes On Design, plans to present Lutz, a former GM vice chairman, with its first ever Design Catalyst Award - which will be presented Tuesday, January 15, during the North American International Auto Show.
  The new Design Catalyst Award will go annually to an individual who recognizes the great among the many good designers, and serves to enable their continued success. The inaugural award will be presented by Wayne Cherry to  Lutz, of whom it has been said "he is responsible for more vehicle styling on the world's roads while at BMW, GM, Ford and Chrysler than any man alive".
 Cherry himself will receive the EyesOn Design 2013 Lifetime Design Achievement Award next June as part of the EyesOn Design summer week of activities.
 Now in their eighth year, the Eyes On Design Awards honor the best production and concept cars making their North American or worldwide debut at the Detroit North American International Auto Show. The EyesOn Design Awards are selected by a panel of 25 active and retired design heads of automotive OEMs, transportation design chairs from top art schools, and an occasional designer from another field.  
  he Award Categories are: The Best Designed Concept Vehicle Award and the Best Designed Production Vehicle Award. By Joseph Szczesny

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lincoln planning for Super Bowl Ad

 Ford Motor Co. is breaking with its long tradition and buying an ad on the Super Bowl to promote its Lincoln brand.
 The plans for the Super Bowl are only one part of  Ford’s effort to capture new space in the premium automotive market, where the Lincoln brand has been largely irrelevant for the past two decades.
  The new  creative strategy behind Lincoln features the brand's first-ever Super Bowl ad. While General Motors announced last spring it would not advertise on the 2013 Super Bowl, brands such as Volkswagen, Hyundai and the Chrysler Group are committed to the telecast.
 “We are announcing a new beginning for a brand that has been part of our company and the American fabric for more than 90 years,"  Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Officer Alan Mulally said Monday.
"The new Lincoln brand will be defined by great new luxury vehicles, such as the new MKZ, that feature quality, unique style with substance and innovative technology. These elements, coupled with a new level of warm, personal and surprising experiences, will enable Lincoln to appeal to today's new luxury customer," Mulally said.
 Mulally said the seeds of this announcement were planted several years ago when the company divested itself of other luxury brands, among them Aston-Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, and made the decision to continue to develop the Ford and Lincoln brands.
 The Lincoln Motor Co. signifies the new future being built on the foundation that originally made Lincoln an inspiration for premium brands and a source of growth and value to its corporate parent, Mulally said.
 With its focus on attracting a new market of individual-minded luxury consumers, Lincoln will deliver a range of vehicles that combine stunning elegant design with technical innovation, he said.
 "The time is now for Lincoln," said Jim Farley, executive vice president of global marketing, sales and service, and Lincoln.
  "The 'Great Recession' changed people and their view of luxury. Today, luxury consumers make decisions based on what appeals most to their passions and not what they believe will impress others. We know we need to continually surprise and delight these new clients," Farley said.
 Farley said the all-new MKZ will be the first of four new Lincoln vehicles in the next four years created to appeal to these new luxury consumers who are emerging as a powerful economic force.
 Called progressive luxury consumers, they are responsible for nearly 25 percent of all luxury vehicle sales in America. They are affluent individuals who no longer purchase to maintain an image for others, but instead seek fresh new alternatives that appeal to them because they found a truly unique choice.
 Farley also announced that Lincoln has asked comedian Jimmy Fallon to lead the  Super Bowl commercial written entirely through social media, with consumers participating through Twitter. Consumers will provide their best 140-character thoughts to a script, and Fallon will then lead the curation of the best contributions that will create the ad to run during the broadcast of the big game.
 As another highlight, all-time NFL rushing leader and three-time Super Bowl champion Emmitt Smith joined Farley for the MKZ launch and has signed on as a brand ambassador to help Lincoln continue to put MKZ in the spotlight at the game in New Orleans.
"It's an honor to join Lincoln Motor Co. on its comeback journey and I'm excited that the MKZ will star in Lincoln's first-ever Super Bowl commercial," said Smith.  By Joseph Szczesny

Contact Joseph Szczesny at 248-745-4650, email or follow him on Twitter at @opjoesez.

Subaru wins LA design challenge

  Subaru Global Design came out on top in the LA Auto Show's annual "Design Challenge by presenting a futuristic police vehicle that can both monitor highway traffic around the clock and respond to emergencies.
  The theme for this year's challenge was  Highway Patrol Vehicle 2025, which meant designers had to create the ultimate 2025 law enforcement patrol vehicle that supports the needs of dynamic urban environments. Six automotive design studios from BMW, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru showcased entries featuring cutting-edge vehicle designs with drone technology, land and air capabilities, electric vehicle systems and renewable resource-fueled vehicles equipped with topographical scanners.
"All judges were impressed with the high level of innovation and technology from the finalists this year," said Chuck Pelly from Design LA. "The SHARC captured the vision of the Design Challenge theme by combining functionality and problem-solving technology around a dynamic and plausible story."
With global collaboration among its design studios, the creative minds at Subaru developed the cutting-edge SHARC as an affordable and environmentally conscious highway patrol vehicle that meets Hawaii's strict UltraGreen carbon-neutral environmental regulations. With visible trends in reduced highway patrol budgets worldwide, SHARC vehicles are powered by renewable energy and operate autonomously, eliminating the need for a large full-time highway patrol staff.
Entries were judged by multi-discipline design professionals who selected the winner based upon various factors including: consideration of future needs for advanced technology; speed and agility on future freeway systems; creativity of the solution; meeting the specific region's mandated emission standards; and environmental sensitivity for maintenance and recyclability.
Judges included Tom Matano, Executive Director, School of Industrial Design at San Francisco's Academy of Art University; Imre Molnar, Provost and Chief Academic Officer at Detroit's College for Creative Studies; Steward Reed, Chair of Transportation Design at Pasadena's Art Center College of Design and Bruce Meyer, founder of the Petersen Automotive Museum and benefactor to automobile world. By Joseph Szczesny