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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Aggressive maneuvering, horns blaring, center-most fingers locked in their upright positions, these are but a few hallmarks of ill-mannered motoring. Surly, rushed or otherwise incompetent drivers cause mayhem on America’s country roads and urban thoroughfares.
With the government shutdown in full force, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has stopped many of its functions that help keep motorists safe.
A report from the Mineta Transportation Institute seems to indicate that some Americans are willing to support the federal transportation revenues though paying higher taxes.
According to a study conducted by the Department of Transportation, results revealed that Americans have been driving less now than they have over a year ago.
Travel on U.S. roads have declined by 1.3 percent through the first eight months of the year when measured against the same period a year ago. This 1.3 percent drop translates to about 26 billion vehicles miles traveled, a number that has not been recorded since 2003.
The result of many exterior forces at work, there are no clear indications to explain the decline. A likely assumption is the increase in fuel prices over last year as well as the recent economic times have encouraged more people to take daycations and staycations than to plan extended road trips.
[Source: usa today]
If you aren’t familiar with the gravely rumble of a diesel powered vehicle you probably will be soon.
They’re commonplace in Europe thanks to better milage and will be in the same position on American shores thanks to increasingly stringent government standards.
Jeff Breneman, executive director of the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars, said to the Midwest Automotive Media Association that if manufacturers make more diesel cars available, people will hurry to buy them.
He’s probably right, considering big North American car suppliers like Chevy and Mazda are rolling diesel siblings of their popular Cruze and Mazda6 in 2013. Cummins is also ramping up its engine production in anticipation of greater demand.
It’s hard to think North Americans will turn their noses up at diesel considering the government’s pending 54.5 mile-per-gallon standard to be in place by 2015.
The end result is an incredibly efficient car that offers immense pull from a stop and satisfying top-end power. To say the least, we were impressed.
“The fact that Chevy will offer a diesel Cruze in 2013 is huge,” Brenenman said. “The gas-powered Cruze will get 40 mpg (5.9 L/100 km), so the diesel is expected to get 50 mpg [or more] (4.7 L/100 km), and that will make it a game-changer.”
If you’re don’t want to wait for Mazda to release their new engines, or the new Chevy Cruze, you could always look to Volkswagen. They’ve been selling diesel siblings to their cars in North America for decades, with significant improvements per generation.
Brenenman said that a third of consumers will opt for the diesel version of the Jetta or Passat because of their better fuel economy. The trouble comes in when supplies run out because it takes six to eight weeks for a new shipment.
Of course in a little more than a year that issue will be a thing of the past, but that isn’t the only thing driving diesel into the future. Brenenman said because emissions standards between Europe and North America are on par, it’s easier for already-existing cars to be sold on both continents with little change.
If you’re still skeptical take a look at our review of the Mazda prototype using their new SkyActiv-D engine, it provides a relatively low compression ratio and tall redline with 340 foot-pounds of torque.
[Source: Wards Auto]
A truck containing a teleprompter and audio gear used by President Barack Obama was stolen in Virginia, prompting questions about security lapses.
The gear, estimated at about $200,000, was parked in a van at a Virginia hotel parking lot ahead of Obama’s visit to the area. The van was said to be carrying audio equipment, podiums and even the Presidential seal, which only Obama is allowed to stand behind. The truck was eventually recovered, but details about the equipment’s status has not been made public.
The truck was said to be unmarked but wearing government tags, and observers are questioning whether this was simply a random vehicle theft that happened to be carrying important cargo, or whether the goods were specifically targeted by thieves.
Previously capped at 80 mph, the Texas House of Representatives approved a new transportation bill that will raise speed limits up to 85 mph in select areas and put an end to the night-time speed limit as well. Yee-haw!
Though exciting for driving enthusiasts (or anyone in a hurry), don’t pack your bags for the Lone Star State just yet. Texas engineers and traffic analysts must first make safety assessments before the state can swap for new signs. Only after a review on Interstate highways determining which will have its speed limit raised from 70 to 75 mph does the state review which can increase from 80 to 85 mph. Yes, the process does sound a bit lame but hopefully we will be rewarded for our patience.
BMW has for a fifth straight month, held the top spot in its sales lead over Mercedes-Benz and Lexus, delivering the most luxury models in the U.S. BMW has been able to hold this position thanks to the deliveries of the new 5-Series and X3 SUV. The German automakers U.S sales rose 6.5 percent last month compared with a year earlier, to 20,815. This accomplishment has allowed to automaker to move in closer to being 2011′s top-selling U.S luxury brand. Lexus currently holds that impressive position and has done so for 11 years straight.
Both Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have both dipped in sales but for different reasons. Mercedes-Benz fell 1.9 percent to 18,477 in August but Lexus dropped seven percent to 18,103 due to continuing inventory disruptions caused by the March earthquake and tsunami.
“This has been a very strange August for our industry with both difficult news and unfortunate events — consumer confidence down and an earthquake, hurricane and floods in the Northeast,” Jim O’Donnell, head of BMW of North America, said in a statement.
So far, BMW has increased sales by 12 percent through August to 155,929 and Mercedes-Benz is up 6.1 percent in U.S sales to 148,409. Lexus has dipped 17 percent to 120,652 but the March disaster must be taken into account.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Mazda CX-5 will enter the highly competitive compact crossover segment in the U.S when it debuts in early 2012. The CX-5 prototype was equipped with 165-hp 2.0-liter engine producing 150 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission and the American version will likely use the same setup.
A diesel variant available in the U.S, equipped with a 2.2-liter, twin-turbo direct injection engine. The diesel will produce over 160-hp and about 310 lb-ft of torque.
The CX-5 will compete against the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Volkswagen Tiguan and Kia Sportage. The CX-5 will be 178.7 inches long, making it more than five inches shorter than the CX-7. The 106.3 inch wheelbase also makes it two inches shorter than the CX-7. The diesel will be added to the crossover in 2014 and will make its North American debut at the Los Angeles auto show in November. Mazda has yet to confirm pricing for the U.S market but Mazda reps say that the base model will sell for around $20,000.
GALLERY: 2012 Mazda CX-5
Click here to read AutoGuide’s drive of the new Mazda SkyActiv prototype and see after the jump to watch the video:
Now that we know the mid 1990s Honda Civic and Accord hold the top two spots amongst car thieves, what cars do thieves avoid most?
Well, aside from the BMW 5-Series, the common denominator on this list is that these cars are all pretty dull. Interestingly, midsize SUVs and German sedans are among what the Highway Loss Data Institute deems to be undesirable to car thieves. These vehicles are likely on the list because they have proper anti-theft mechanisms that go beyond a mere alarm system. On the other hand, the Chevrolet Aveo is a rolling anti-theft system in itself.
Here’s the Top 10 car that thieves dislike:
- Audi A6 all-wheel-drive, large luxury car
- Mercury Mariner (2009-10) small SUV
- Chevrolet Equinox (2010) midsize SUV
- Volkswagen CC (2009-10), midsize car
- Chevrolet Equinox four-wheel-drive (2010) midsize SUV
- Lexus RX 350 (2010) midsize luxury SUV
- Saturn Vue midsize SUV
- Chevrolet Aveo (2009-10) mini station wagon
- BMW 5 series all-wheel-drive large luxury car
- Mini Cooper Clubman 2-door car
[Source: USA Today]
Infiniti announced U.S pricing for the 2012 QX full-size SUV and the 2012 EX crossover. The QX was redesigned in 2011, so changes to the 2012 model are non-existent.
The full-sized SUV will be offered in both a 2WD and 4WD setup, and some options have been changed to make some features more accessible in lower-level packages. One change on the 2012 model is the Blind Spot Intervention system available with the Technology Package. This option alerts the driver to vehicles in the blind spot area. Both the QX models will utilize the 400-hp 5.6-liter V8 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission. Pricing for the 2012 2WD model will start at $58,700 and the 2012 4WD model will start at $61,800.
The 2012 EX will be available in four models including the EX35 RWD ($35,600), EX35 AWD ($37,000), EX35 RWD Journey ($37,900) and EX35 AWD Journey ($39,300). The crossover also gains the HomeLink Universal Transceiver as standard equipment on the EX35 Journey. All four models will utilize the same 297-hp 3.5-liter V6 mated to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
GALLERY: Infinti EX35/ QX56
Two National Guard Light Medium Tactical Vehicles were entirely submerged during the Hurricane Irene aftermath, and the action was captured on video.
The two trucks drove through the deep water in downtown Manville. They managed to drive about a block before either water got into the engine or the drivers ran out of breath. At one point when the trucks stop, the men climb out of the trucks and appear to be unable to swim.
Check it out for yourself after the jump!
The result of high gas prices, Americans drove 15.5 billion miles less in the first half of 2011. The Federal Highway Administration reported that U.S drivers logged 1.453 trillion miles through to June 30 which is down 1.1 percent over the first half of 2010. The last time Americans drove less was back in 2004, when they logged 1.351 trillion miles (at the half way point), according to the government.
The all time high for first-half travel occurred in 2007 with 1.497 billion miles. June in particular was a month of few miles. Travel fell 1.4 percent to 259.1 billion miles, down 3.8 billion miles. In contrast to 2011, Americans drove three trillion miles in 2010, which has a direct correlation with lower gas prices. With gas prices the way they are, Americans are driving less, and according to recent studies are also more likely to hold onto older cars.
[Source: The Detroit Auto News]
Surprisingly, large segments of Americans are willing to buy Chinese made cars. Market research company GfK Automotive did its annual Barometer of Automotive Awareness and Imagery, and found that 38 percent of the respondents would consider buying a Chinese car. According to the study, “The openness to purchasing a Chinese and Indian vehicle is highest among Gen Y consumers, with 52 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from a Chinese automaker and 41 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from an Indian automaker.”
Don Deveaux, managing director of Gfk Automotive commented on the issue saying, “When a relatively unknown auto brand enters the market, potential buyers are going to have some initial skepticism without a frame of reference into the company’s history and differentiators from other brands. Quality and repair support are critical factors that potential buyers evaluate before purchasing a new vehicle, and without an established history in the United States, Chinese and Indian manufacturers need to overcome the lack of knowledge of their brands among potential new buyers.”
Currently Chinese automakers suffer from a poor image due to continued promises to offer models in America (which never seem to come to fruition), not to mention numerous poor marks in crash tests. Then again, who cares about safety when you can get a Bentley-styled SUV, like the Huatai B35 above.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
America’s five fastest roads have been ranked and surprisingly, the average driver’s need for speed has been dampened. American’s are traveling more slowly than they were a few years ago, likely due to rising gas prices and increased traffic enforcement.
The average speeder traveled 81 mph on America’s top ten fastest roads, which is down from 85 mph last year. The fastest road in the U.S is located on the northbound section of Arizona State Route 79, between Saguaro National Park and Phoenix. The top speed recorded on this section was 94 mph, and 5% of drivers use this road traveling an average of 88 mph, even though the speed limit is 75 mph.
With gas prices on the rise, people are driving more efficiently but the decline in average speed has also been linked to the struggling economy and high unemployment. High unemployment is keeping younger drivers off the road, and they generally engage in the riskiest behavior on roads.
The top five fastest roads include:
5. Arizona State Route 77
4. Eastbound MI-5 Michigan Highway
3. California State Route 73
2. Oklahoma State Highway 33
1. Northbound Arizona State Route 79
Diesel sales have vastly improved through the end of July, up 38.5 percent, compared to the same seven- month cycle in 2010. Volkswagen has been leading the sales with the Jetta TDI and Golf TDI.
Volkswagen sold 5,206 Jetta TDI models in July, bringing the diesel powered sedan’s year-to-date total to 56,717. On the other hand, the Golf TDI did not perform as well, with only 966 units being sold, but did land second place among all diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. Bringing up the rear, in third place was the BMW X5 xDrive35d with 562 units sold.
Through the first half of the year diesel sales have had a significant advantage, with sales of hybrids suffering due to limited supply as a result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Still, the Prius managed to move a total of 74,427 units year-to-date, well ahead of the Jetta TDI.
[Source: Hybrid Cars]
American consumers buying the Fiat 500 are choosing pricier packages and customized options. The mid level Sport ($17,500) model accounts for almost half of the model’s sales in the first five months of the Italian brand in the U.S.
The top level Lounge ($19,500) model represents 20 percent of sales which features bigger wheels, leather seats, satellite radio and a glass roof. ”A lot of what we’re seeing is customers really want to build their car,” said Laura Soave, head of the Fiat brand in North America. ”Customers are willing to wait the six to eight weeks to get the one they want.”
Sergio Marchionne, CEO of both Fiat and Chrysler, aims to merge both automakers to reduce costs and generate over $142 billion by 2014. Chrysler predicts selling more than 50,000 500′s annually in the US. Fiat has delivered 7,982 500′s in the US since March and has sold 3,038 units in July. Fiat will open 130 initial dealerships and hopes to attain its sales target by 2011. The 500 is built in Chrysler’s factory near Mexico City.
[Source: Automotive News]
Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Fiat 500 Review and discuss this story at Fait500Owners.com