AutoGuide News Blog
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.
A testing program that began a year ago in Ann Arbor, Mich. will continue six months beyond its originally planned lifespan.
God blessed Texas with His own hand
Brought down angles from the Promised Land
Gave ‘em a place where they could dance
If you want to see heaven, brother, here’s your chance…
Performance bargains were the most popular in AutoGuide.com’s new cars section this week. The top three were the 2013 Chevrolet Camaro, Ford Mustang and Mazda MX-5.
AutoGuide.com’s new cars section saw a mix of browsers researching performance and practicality this week.
Superman’s x-ray vision would make some things a whole lot easier like playing poker or parallel parking, and in some ways that technology is close at hand.
The Ridgeline is a slow seller, but Honda isn’t ready to give up their only truck bed-bearing model just yet.
The 2012 model will be getting a slight facelift along with a lower-cost sport (pictured above) model. The four-door pickup hasn’t managed to take hold since 2006 when it was first released.
Those slow sales fed speculation that the truck might disappear from showroom floors altogether, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. American Honda’s Truck Planner, Sage Marie, directly addressed the issue in an official statement, saying the truck is “here to stay.”
Tetsu Iwamura, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Honda confirmed that statement in an interview with AutoBlog.com at the Tokyo Motor Show.
“We’re fully aware of the importance of that model and we’re trying to make that model grow much more. At this moment, there is no intention to stop the Ridgeline,” he said before confirming that Honda is conducting research into improving North American appeal for the truck.
Do people still buy minivans? That’s what Polk Research wants to find out.
With a common aversion to minivans that lies somewhere between stubbing a toe on furniture and ebola, it’s interesting to see that from last year, minivan sales have actually gone up. From a nice, even 3 percent of light vehicle sales in 2010, sales of the minivan increased .2%. But then again, this is the tail end of a trend from 2007 that saw a high of 4.3%, and slipped sharply last year.
Manufacturers are well aware of this too. Out of these minivan sales, a whopping 92% come from just four models: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Caravan. The other 8% consists of the Kia Sedona, Volkswagen Routan and the Nissan Quest.
Those, of course, are the only minivans sold on the market today. Gone are Ford and GM, for example, among others: manufacturers have known that consumers have avoided minivans for years now, and as a result are replacing them in their lineups with SUVs. Polk’s data supports this: last year, over 40% of customers who ditched a minivan replaced it with either a midsize or a compact SUV. 21% went with a midsize car, and given America’s aversion to small cars as well as minivans, only 16% bought one of those instead.
Since 2007, the number of minivans available on the market has dropped from 15 models to 7. Of course, all of this leads to a neat, tidy little Catch-22. If manufacturers decide that consumers aren’t buying minivans, they’ll stop making them. But if consumers can’t find the right minivan to choose from, they won’t buy one. So which came first: the manufacturers who won’t build minivans because nobody’s buying them, or the consumers who can’t find one to buy in the first place?
A new study from MIT has revealed that while distracted driving is a problem for all drivers—and will always be, whenever there’s a bikini car wash or van fire nearby—young people are distracted by different things than the elderly, and as we get older we’re more easily distracted.
Young people tend to stray their attention to in-car stimuli such as cell phones and text messages, while older people draw their attention to sirens and flashing lights—two things that shouldn’t be inside the car, hopefully.
MIT’s AgeLab got these results by placing volunteers inside a driving simulator, then measuring conditions such as heart rate and tracking eye movement. From this data, MIT also found that as people increase in age, they gain a higher element of risk perception; they’re less inclined to drive at night, during rush hour, or quickly, according to researcher Bryan Reimer, Ph.D.
What’s more interesting is the role that technology plays in distracted driving, according to Reimer. His team examined the self-parking feature in the Lincoln MKS, and whether people could be taught to trust such an automated process and give up their sense of self-control, even temporarily. ”In some of our work here we’ve shown that with appropriate training people can begin to trust that technology rather quickly,” said Reimer. “One of the areas we’re looking at right now is how does different levels of education about the technology begin to impact their trust and their desire to use it.”
The conclusion they drew was that technology to fight distraction wasn’t the solution—driver education is. “I don’t think technology combating technology is really going to be an effective solution,” said Reimer. “I think some form of education is desperately needed in the U.S. when it comes to automotive purchases and automotive technology.”
Click the jump to see a video of Reimer’s lab and his research. Also note how it took a genius from MIT to find a good use for a VW Beetle.
[Source: Auto Observer]
Honda‘s manufacturing plants will remain closed, while the heart of their company, the research & development facility in Tochigi, Japan, will undergo months of repairs after being severely damaged by the earthquake that devastated Japan earlier in March.
Honda originally planned to keep their plants closed until March 27th but has decided to extend the closures until April 3rd. Workers at Tochigi will be transferred to other locations. The company released a statement claiming “based on the expectation that it will take several months until the complete recovery of these facilities, Honda decided to temporally transfer some functions such as the automobile product development, development of manufacturing technologies and procurement to Honda operations in other locations such as Sayama, Suzuka, and Wako.”
Supplies of vehicles like the Honda Fit, CR-V and Acura TSX will be affected by the production delays. One person died and 30 were injuried when a wall at a cafeteria at the Tochigi facility collapsed. Honda held meetings at a nearby restaurant after employees were barred from entering the building for safety reasons. Honda’s parts suppliers have also told the company that it will take a week for them to resume normal production schedules.
[Source: Automotive News]
And they don’t know much more about hybrids, either. A study by London-based market research firm Synovate found that new vehicle buyers hardly knew that hybrids contained batteries, used gasoline, or couldn’t be plugged in.
Only two-thirds of people surveyed knew that hybrids used both battery and gasoline power (hence the “hybrid” name), and only one-third knew that hybrids could run on the electric motor by itself.
It gets more distressing. Those surveyed about plug-in hybrids didn’t know that they still required gasoline. Less than half knew that plug-ins, like their regular hybrid brethren, could also run in electric-only mode.
The survey was conducted from Oct. 22 and Nov. 2 of last year, among 1,898 Americans who were about to buy a new car or intended to do so. Synovate concluded from these results that a lack of buyer knowledge could affect vehicle sales, before going on to prove the aqueous qualities of dihydrogen monoxide.
“This low level of understanding about the way in which electric powertrain vehicles work will have profound consequences for vehicle sales,” said Stephen Popiel, senior vice president of Synovate Motoresearch. “In the short term, dealers will have to spend an inordinate amount of time explaining the workings of PHEVs and BEVs to interested buyers. We have to wonder if consumers will become disillusioned when they understand the actual requirements of electric vehicles.”
Ultimately, “whose job is it to educate consumers about these powertrains?” Popiel asked. Is it the manufacturer’s responsibility? The media’s? Or even the government’s? Synovate didn’t suggest anything. Either way, “long-term success of the electrification of the fleet will only come about with a better-educated consumer,” said Popiel.
Certainly, shelling out for the second most-expensive consumer purchase in one’s lifetime merits even basic knowledge of its functions. You may not have to read the owner’s manual cover to cover (unless you’re a nerd), but if you don’t remember to put gasoline in your hybrid, then it’s back to the drawing board.