Jun 27, 2008

Eaton elects Joseph Palchak as CEO - Automotive Group

CLEVELAND - Eaton Corporation announced today that Joseph P. Palchak has been elected to the position of chief executive officer – Automotive Group. Formerly president of the Engine Air Management Business, Palchak reports to Alexander M. Cutler, Eaton chairman and chief executive officer. He succeeds Scott L. King, who passed away earlier this month following a battle with cancer.

“Joe brings extensive automotive experience to the position and is uniquely qualified to lead our businesses in meeting the challenges within the global automotive industry,” Cutler said. “He has a very strong operations background and a track record of getting results. He exemplifies our dedication to anticipating the needs of our automotive customers worldwide by delivering innovative solutions with exceptional quality and delivery performance.”

Palchak has served as the president of the group’s Engine Air Management Business since 2005 and before that was president – Powertrain and Specialty Controls Operations. Prior to that, he held a number of assignments within the Automotive Group. Palchak joined Eaton in 1973 following the completion of his bachelor’s degree in business from Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania. He holds a master’s in business administration from the University of Louisville in Kentucky.

Jake Hooks has been named to replace Palchak as president – Engine Air Management Business. He will report to Palchak and be located in Marshall, Mich.

Hooks began his career with Aeroquip Corp. in 1978, and joined Eaton via the Aeroquip/Vickers acquisition in 1999 as vice president and general manager of the Global Hose Division. Throughout his career, he has progressed through a number of staff and line assignments including, vice president – Engineering and Product Development; vice president – Operations Excellence; vice president and general manager for the Powertrain Controls Division and most recently as vice president – Sales and Marketing for the Automotive Group, where he has served since 2005.

Hooks holds a Bachelor of Science degree in materials engineering from North Carolina State University and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Executive Program.

“We are excited to have Jake take over leadership of the Engine Air Management Business,” said Palchak. “His leadership of our sales and marketing team during these challenging times and his operations experience within the automotive industry position us well for the opportunities we have before us.”

Eaton Corporation is a diversified industrial manufacturer with 2007 sales of $13.0 billion. Eaton is a global leader in electrical systems and components for power quality, distribution and control; fluid power systems and services for industrial, mobile and aircraft equipment; intelligent truck drivetrain systems for safety and fuel economy; and automotive engine air management systems, powertrain solutions and specialty controls for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has 70,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 150 countries.


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German Fiat dealership wins ADAC EuroTest

The De Graef Fiat dealership in Cologne has won first place at European level for customer service. It is the result of the latest ADAC EuroTest on ‘EDC in automotive applications’ during which the German Automobile Club examined European car dealers. During the study, the examiners simulated 500 sales transactions, in 50 European cities, at the dealerships of ten different car manufacturers. As well as ability to provide promotional information and advice on ESP, the judges looked at detailed technical knowledge, and general knowledge on safety and car safety systems.

According to the examiners, the De Graef dealership provided the most thorough explanations regarding ESP functions. In particular, the Cologne Fiat dealer gained the highest score in Europe with 96.1%, due to the importance placed on certain factors, such as perfect knowledge of details, advice, recommendations and, above all, safety.

As well as offering services for Alfa Romeo and Lancia, the De Graef concessionary has been a sole agent for Fiat since 1983. The company’s biggest asset is the great attention it gives to safety, both in terms of providing customers with simple, comprehensive explanations of the latest developments in this area, and in terms of explaining the strategic importance of safety for any civilised society.


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Mahindra’s FirstChoice Wheels plans chain of 300 outlets Pan-India

Mumbai - Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M), India’s leading automotive major and a diversified global multi-national, today announced that FirstChoice Wheels (the country’s largest chain of multi-brand pre-owned cars), has raised Rs. 80 crore through a private placement and rights issue to unlock value and fuel growth. The funds raised will be used to finance the roll out of FirstChoice’s chain of 300 owned and franchise outlets across the country.

The private placement agreement was inked with Phi Advisors, which is promoted by Mr. Anupam Thareja and Mr. P. Sivaram.

The new After–Market Sector, which was launched recently, is thus looking at augmenting the presence of its pre-owned car multi-brand stores across the country.

The After- Market Sector is a new business vertical, which aims to replicate the new vehicle eco-system in the pre-owned vehicle space.

Mr. Rajeev Dubey, President After-market Sector, M&M, said, “Our vision is to corporatise the pre-owned used car business, which is a pioneering effort by the Mahindra Group. FirstChoice is at the threshold of its next phase of growth and the infusion of funds and a partner like Phi would help transform the company into a truly pan – Indian player, helping us consolidate our leadership in the multi-brand pre-owned car industry.”

Mr. Vinay Sanghi, CEO – FirstChoice Wheels, added, “FirstChoice has gained the first mover advantage as the leading organised player in the pre-owned car market. With an excellent team and systems in place, we are targeting 1,00,000 vehicle sales per annum by 2013. With this funding, we will increase our reach to over 300 outlets. This will include 30 Franchise Super Stores, each of which will have a stock of over 200 cars on display.”

The pre-owned car market which currently stands at 1.5 million cars per year is expected to grow exponentially in the coming years given the increasing disposable incomes of Indian families. The pre-owned car industry is expected to reach a size of 50,000 crore in the next 5 years. This will eventually procreate peripheral businesses to support the pre-owned car industry.

M&M introduced the After-Market sector in April 2008 to capitalize on the business opportunity of selling multi-brand pre-owned cars and to subsequently provide spares and service support through this new sector.


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American Honda & Toyota Motor each receive three model-level awards

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. -- In a reversal of a steady upward trend from previous years, overall new-vehicle owner delight has declined slightly in 2008, primarily due to owner concerns about fuel prices, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study released today.

The study, now in its 13th year, measures owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles. APEAL complements the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership. APEAL examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of 10 measures, encompassing more than 90 vehicle attributes. Over the years, vehicle models achieving high APEAL scores have been shown to benefit from faster sales, reduced need for consumer incentives and higher margins on each vehicle sold.

The overall APEAL score in 2008 averages 770 on a 1,000-point scale -- a 2-point decrease since 2007. A significant decrease in owner delight with fuel economy accounts for more than one-half of the overall decline.

"Average prices at the fuel pump have increased by 27 percent in the period between the 2007 and 2008 APEAL studies, creating heightened sensitivity to fuel economy among new-vehicle owners," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Even though more consumers are now achieving the gas mileage they expect compared with previous years, the increased cost of filling their vehicles still leads to a greater level of dissatisfaction with fuel economy than in the past. Manufacturers that deliver more fuel-efficient vehicles and integrate alternative fuel technology into their designs stand a better chance of delighting their customers and being successful in this rapidly changing marketplace."

The study finds that overall scores for most APEAL performance measures have either stayed the same or declined since 2007; only performance in the area of audio, entertainment and navigation improves slightly.

"Manufacturers are working to increase customer delight by introducing entertainment and navigation technology that owners find particularly appealing," said Sargent. "The key to doing this successfully is to develop technology features with the needs and wants of the user in mind – most importantly, ensuring that technology is designed to be consumer-friendly and intuitive to use. Technology that is overly complicated to operate runs the risk of disappointing the customer."

The study also finds that, in a departure from previous years, models that have been mildly "refreshed" achieve higher APEAL scores, on average, than all-new or redesigned models.

"Historically, all-new vehicle models have been more successful in delighting customers than refreshed models, but this year, launching appealing new models has been more difficult for manufacturers," said Sargent. "The long-term success of a model can be predicted partially from how well it launches, which underscores the importance of a strong debut. Those automakers that manage to achieve high levels of both appeal and initial quality in their models can expect to benefit not only from customer acclaim, but also increased profitability."

APEAL Model-Level and Nameplate Rankings
Honda captures three model segment awards -- more than any other vehicle nameplate this year -- for the Fit (for a second consecutive year), Odyssey (for a fourth consecutive year) and Ridgeline (for a fourth consecutive year). Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen each garner two awards. Porsche models receiving awards are the Cayenne and Cayman (for a third consecutive year), while Toyota earns awards for the FJ Cruiser and Sequoia. Volkswagen receives awards for the GTI/R32 (for a second consecutive year) and the Passat. The Honda Fit and Toyota Sequoia are the only two models to rank highest in their segments in both the APEAL and IQS studies.

Also receiving awards are the BMW 5 Series, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Avalanche, Dodge Magnum, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and MINI Cooper.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in APEAL for a fourth consecutive year. Among the 36 ranked nameplates, 20 experience a decline in index scores since 2007, while 15 improve. Domestic brands comprise the eight most-improved nameplates. Buick posts the largest improvement, followed by Chrysler, Ford, Mercury and Dodge, respectively. A majority of the most-improved models are also from domestic manufacturers, including the redesigned Ford Focus, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chevrolet Malibu.

The 2008 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2008 from more than 81,500 purchasers and lessees of new 2008 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership.

Find more detailed findings on new-vehicle APEAL performance as well as model photos and specs by watching a video, reading an article and reviewing APEAL ratings at JDPower.com.


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Jun 26, 2008

Federal-Mogul receives GAU International Award

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. -- Federal-Mogul Corporation received a GAU (Group Auto Union) International Award for its product and performance achievements at the company's annual shareholder's meeting May 20 - 22, in Biarritz, France. Federal-Mogul supplies innovative technologies from its five core product categories: Engine, Sealing, Steering, Braking and Service Solutions to GAU International, a network of multispecialists for distribution of spare parts and services for cars, trucks and agricultural materials.

"We are proud and honored to be recognized for our performance with this prestigious Award from GAU International," said Ramzi Hermiz, senior vice president, Aftermarket Products and Services, who accepted the award with Martin Hendricks, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Global Aftermarket, on behalf of Federal-Mogul. "We are committed to serving the European and global aftermarket industry with leading brands, products and services at a globally competitive cost. We look forward to continued success with GAU International as we focus on our sustainable global profitable growth strategy."

GAU International is one of the largest networks of spare parts distributors in Europe and is one of Federal-Mogul's most valued aftermarket customers, with 786 members operating in 21 countries with 2,000 outlets, and over 4,000 repair shops for light-duty vehicles and 300 for commercial vehicles. The GAU International Awards are granted based on key performance criteria, including: service, product performance, representation, technical support and marketing.

Federal-Mogul Corporation is a leading global supplier of powertrain, chassis and safety technologies, serving the world's foremost original equipment manufacturers of automotive, light commercial, heavy-duty, agricultural, marine, rail, off-road and industrial vehicles, as well as the worldwide aftermarket.


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Hyundai appoints Aravanis as new After Sales Director

Hyundai Motor Company Australia (HMCA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Nick Aravanis as Director of After Sales.

Mr Aravanis brings to Hyundai over 23 years experience within the motor industry including National level positions with Mazda Australia and Ford Motor Company, both in Australia and the Asia Pacific. Mr Aravanis joins Hyundai Motor Company Australia from Ford Motor Company Asia Pacific where he held the position of Logistics Manager.

Mr Aravanis takes over from Bill Needle, who recently retired and will report directly to Hyundai Motor Company Australia CEO, Steve Yeo; he will lead the company’s commitment to ensuring a premium level of customer service for all Hyundai customers.

“Nick will be a strong asset to HMCA, we look forward to the wealth of experience and depth of industry knowledge he will bring to further strengthen our after sales division,” said Steve Yeo, CEO, Hyundai Motor Company Australia.

Mr Aravanis holds a Bachelor of Engineering from RMIT with a post-graduate Master of Business Administration from Deakin University.


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Hyundai set for strong showing at Australian manufacturers championship

Hyundai Motor Company Australia has its young guns on hand this weekend at Phillip Island for the inaugural Australian Manufacturers Championship.

It’s a weekend for Hyundai’s next generation, with 22 year old George Miedecke - son of former V8 Supercar driver and Hyundai Port Macquarie dealer, Andrew Miedecke - confident of a strong performance against an experienced field including, motorsport legend, John Bowe.

Hyundai Motor Company Australia is also represented by the Kangan Batman TAFE Team Hyundai Sonata - fresh from a fairytale win in the Bathurst 12 Hour. With a team of TAFE students furthering their working knowledge of the craft of motorsport as the support crew to MoTec Engineer Jamie Augustine who will be behind the wheel.

“Weather will play an important part in the teams choice for race set up and the weekend will provide invaluable learning opportunities for both teams” said Tiffanny Junee, Manager – Corporate Communications & Media for Hyundai Motor Company Australia.

Throughout the weekend, George Miedecke and Hyundai will continue their active support for the VCCRI and its search for a cure into heart disease, in his Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute Hyundai Tiburon. To show your support drive your way to Hyundai Australia website and enter the draw before 30 June 2008 to win a fly/drive holiday to Tasmania for two adults.


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Jun 24, 2008

Mercedes-Benz to built new plant in Hungary

Mercedes-Benz has announced that it will build a new plant in Hungary.

The new plant will aim to boost competitiveness and gain access to potential markets in Eastern Europe, as well as boosting the company’s efficiency.

Based at Kecskemet in Hungary, the new plant will complement an existing one in Rastatt and Rainer Schmuckle, chief operating officer of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said both will play an important role.

He said production of the next generation of premium compact cars would begin in Rastatt, while the new E800 million plant will offer more efficiency.

"The site meets all the high quantitative and qualitative requirements for the successful establishment of a Mercedes-Benz production," Mr Schmuckle said.

"Both sites have to contribute to the cost-effectiveness of our involvement in this vehicle segment which is the subject of very intense competition," he added.

The new plant will be built about 50 miles from Budapest and will create up to 2,500 jobs for people in the region.


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Tianjin FAW Toyota to increase production capacity

Tianjin FAW Toyota Motor Co. Ltd. (TFTM), a joint venture between FAW Group Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation, announced on May 13 to increase annual production capacity for its No. 2 Vehicle Plant from current 100,000 to 150,000 units by the end of 2009. Thus TFTM’s production capacity will reach 470, 000 units a year following the accomplishment of the so-called 4th extension project. A plan to establish a research and development center to support its vehicle development capabilities also announced.

With total investment of 150 million Yuan (RMB), the extension project will cover 80,000m2 area located at the Tianjin Economic-technological Development Zone.


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Mazda to cut vehicle fuel consumption 30% by 2015

HIROSHIMA, Japan—Mazda Motor Corporation has announced that it is setting its sights on reducing the fuel consumption of Mazda vehicles sold globally by an average 30 percent by 2015. This determined commitment will entail a holistic approach which includes using lightweight technologies, the upgrade of almost all of Mazda’s gasoline engines, introducing a Smart Idle Stop System, a new gasoline rotary engine and new diesel engines worldwide.

By 2015, Mazda will have renewed almost its entire powertrain lineup and, from 2011, through steadily developing safe, lightweight, new generation platforms aims to reduce the weight of its new vehicles by 100 kilograms or more.

Mazda is driven by its long-term vision to provide all its customers with first-rate environmental and safety features as well as driving pleasure. This means that Mazda owners are assured of driving cars that continue to provide the fun-to-drive feeling that will keep them coming back for more, while still having the peace of mind that their Mazda is environmentally-friendly and safe to drive.

But, this focus on the environment is not a new concept for Mazda. In the seven years from 2001 to 2008, the average fuel economy of Mazda vehicles sold in the Japanese market increased by approximately 30 percent. In 1991, the company embarked on a long-term project to develop vehicles powered by hydrogen technology, thereby participating in the search for sustainable transportation solutions, which still continues today.

Mazda saw its hydrogen powertrain efforts progress positively forward in June 2008 when the Mazda5 Hydrogen RE Hybrid received the green light from the Japanese government to begin testing on public roads. The Mazda5 Hydrogen RE Hybrid (known as the Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid in Japan) offers 40 percent more power and an extended hydrogen driving range of 200 kilometers. It will be available for commercial lease in Japan during the 2008 fiscal year. And, Mazda is already progressing well with the development of an all-new Hydrogen RE vehicle with dynamic performance equivalent to a 3.0-liter gasoline engine and a hydrogen range of 400 kilometers.

The next technological milestone for Mazda will be the introduction of the mass production version of its proprietary Smart Idle Stop System into one of its cars in 2009.

Mazda’s is the only idle stop system in the world that restarts the engine from idle by injecting fuel directly into the cylinder and igniting it to force the piston down, enabling a fast and quiet restart as well as an improvement in fuel economy by up to seven-to-eight percent. Demonstrating the extent of Mazda’s flexible R&D capability in developing alternative environmentally-friendly technologies, the system will initially appear in Japan and Europe; however, it will be rolled out worldwide.

Mazda’s future powertrain line-up has much to excite current and future Mazda customers. In 2009, an E85 fuel-compatible flex-fuel engine will be introduced into the Northern European and North American markets. From 2011 onwards, with new gasoline engines will incorporate next generation Direct Injection Spark Ignition and other systems to boost power by 15 to 20 percent and improve fuel economy by approximately 20 percent.

Beginning in 2011, Mazda plans to introduce new diesel engines worldwide that meet the strictest future exhaust gas regulations in each market. These engines will feature next generation direct injection technology, turbocharging systems and NOx reduction technology, which will enhance fuel economy by 20 percent and produce cleaner exhaust gases, while still providing a true Zoom-Zoom experience.

A fundamental part of Mazda’s heritage, the gasoline rotary engine, will be substantially upgraded in the early 2010s. Currently referred to as the 16X, the next rotary engine will offer substantially improved performance and economy through use of Direct Injection Spark Ignition and high-speed combustion technology, enfolded in new rotary dimensions.

Mazda’s environmental efforts are not only focused on its cars. The plants in which they are built have also received a lot of attention to ensure that they contribute to a sustainable future.

In FY2007, the volume of CO2 emissions from production activities in Japan was reduced by 15.4 percent compared to FY1990 levels. Expressed as CO2 emissions volume per unit of revenue, the reduction was 24 percent.

In 2005, Mazda was the first auto manufacturer to introduce a Three Layer Wet Paint System which reduces VOC emissions by 45 percent and CO2 emissions by 15 percent. Mazda now plans to introduce a more advanced version of this unique Paint System in 2009 as it finalizes the development of an innovative water-based paint technology that reduces VOC emissions by a further 57 percent without increasing CO2 emissions. Producing around 25 percent fewer CO2 emissions than common water-based paint, this new technology is intended to make Mazda’s paint shops the cleanest in the world.

Mazda is also making itself known in the area of carbon neutral bioplastics. Developed in collaboration with government, industry and academia, Mazda intends to expand the applications of this new source of eco-friendly material. Already, bioplastics are used in the new Mazda5 Hydrogen RE Hybrid and, in June 2008, Mazda commenced the Mazda Bioplastic Project to develop a bioplastic made from non-food-based cellulosic biomass. The project aims to have the bioplastic ready for use in vehicles by 2013.


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Jun 21, 2008

Eco-friendly smart diesel comes to UK

The new smart diesel model will enter right-hand drive manufacturing next February, meaning British drivers will be able to get their hands on the world’s most eco-friendly vehicle.

Using only 85.6mpg, the new smart can travel 670 miles on a tank, the equivalent of Dover to Prague.

It also releases the lowest CO2 emissions of any vehicle currently in production at just 88g/km.

Dermot Kelly, managing director of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: "The cdi gives customers the whole range of smart benefits when driving in and around the city, with the added bonus of low cost, long distance motoring.

"Our retailers are reporting heightened interest in the iconic two-seater; registrations are buoyant and we think the addition of the smart cdi to the range early next year will give added momentum," he added.

Drivers can get 45hp from the three-cylinder engine and the model will be available as a coupe and a cabrio.

Source: Infibeam.com

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Jun 18, 2008

Professional Pack for Volvo V70 and S80

The competition in the premium segment of the car market increases strongly. Volvo Cars the Netherlands goes in the attack on the concise market and introduces the Professional Pack on the V70 and S80. A package options to value of € 5,851, that from now for no longer then € 995 in the price list stands.

"There appears in the concise segment of the car market talk of increasing competition and always more aggressive actions. At this cannot withdraw also a brand as a Volvo, is already it from way back not our style. We chose about that for an attractive option package for the concise rijder with a very sharp price. We chose moreover díe options, that a favorable influence have on the rest value of this kind of cars, as a complete integrated full colour navigate system. That are also the affairs that the concise rijder strong speak to", according to At of Batenburg, Manager Sales & Dealer Operations at the Dutch Volvo-importer.

Package with popular options
The Professional Pack is to take effect immediately liver bar on Volvo's toppers in the concise market: the V70 and the S80. The package offers first of all the known Volvo Full File Navigate system with color screen that from the dashboard upwards rice and a DVD with card information of whole Europe. Furthermore complete leather cover, a leather wheel with audio bedizening, cruise control and Park Assist behind. The package is liver bar on nearly all exports and motoriseringen and naturally can be completed with other Volvo Lines and various loose options.

Source: Infibeam.com

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TVS Motor announces changes in senior leadership

Hosur - TVS Motor Company has announced that Mr. H S Goindi, Sr. Vice President has been appointed as the Head of Sales, Service and Marketing, replacing Mr. R Chandramouli, who has expressed his desire to pursue interests outside the company.

In his new capacity, Mr. H S Goindi will be responsible for sales, service and marketing of two-wheelers in India, along with his existing responsibilities for International Business and Three Wheelers.

Mr. R Chandramouli is venturing into new pastures after a 19-year tenure of distinguished service with TVS Motor Company. During his term of service with the company, he has established excellent business relationships with dealers and has built a very good sales and service organization, recording excellent growth in sales volumes. His leadership and contribution during difficult transition phases in the company has been highly noteworthy.

Source: Infibeam.com

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Jun 17, 2008

Toyota Prius ranks highest in satisfying customers in France

PARIS – For a second consecutive year, the Toyota Prius is the highest-ranking model in satisfying new-car owners in France, according to the J.D. Power and Associates/L’Automobile Magazine 2008 France Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Study released today.

The France Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Study, now in its fourth year, is based on the evaluations of more than 18,000 French car owners after an average of two years of ownership. The study includes 25 brands and 109 models. Owners provide detailed evaluations of their vehicles and dealers, which covers 77 attributes grouped in four measurements of satisfaction. In order of importance, they are: quality and reliability (38%); vehicle appeal (22%), which includes performance, design, comfort and features; ownership costs (20%), including fuel consumption, insurance and costs of service/repair; and dealer service satisfaction (19%).

The study finds that the Prius earns a score of 867 on a 1,000-point scale, improving 9 index points since 2007. Prius owners report particularly high satisfaction levels with the model’s ownership costs, and quality and reliability.

Toyota ranks highest in three model-level segments with the Corolla Verso, Land Cruiser and Prius. Audi, BMW, Citroën and Honda each receive one model award.

The highest-ranked models in each of the study’s seven segments are:
- Citroën C1 (basic car)
- Honda Jazz (small car)
- Audi A3 (lower medium car)
- Toyota Prius (upper medium car)
- BMW 5 Series (executive/luxury car)
- Toyota Corolla Verso (MPV)
- Toyota Land Cruiser (SUV)

In the nameplate rankings, BMW ranks highest with a score of 815. Following BMW in the rankings in a tie are Audi, Honda and Mercedes-Benz with 814 each. Audi performs particularly well in two key measures of satisfaction: vehicle appeal, and vehicle quality and reliability. Skoda follows Audi, Honda and Mercedes-Benz to rank fifth with a score of 808 among nameplates.

“Premium brands Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all show a strong performance in vehicle quality/reliability,” said Martin Volk, senior research manager at J.D. Power and Associates. “Getting the product right from the launch phase and keeping quality standards at a consistent, high level throughout the entire ownership lifecycle contributes to a satisfying ownership experience, which in turn increases the percentage of customers considering the same brand again for their next new-vehicle purchase. In fact, 50 percent of customers who are highly satisfied with the quality and reliability of their vehicles report they would definitely repurchase their vehicle brand, compared with only 19 percent of customers with lower satisfaction levels saying the same.”

The study also finds that French nameplates continue to demonstrate improvement in overall customer satisfaction. Both brands from the PSA Group—Peugeot and Citroën—receive improved satisfaction scores for the quality and reliability of their vehicles compared with 2007.

“Our monthly reliability surveys and road tests show that the new cars launched by French manufacturers Citroën, Peugeot and Renault, have already improved in vehicle quality,” said Stéphane Meunier, editor in chief of L’Automobile Magazine. “Their dealer networks have also steadily improved. The 2008 J.D. Power and Associates study confirms this positive trend.”

J.D. Power and Associates conducts CSI studies around the world, including Europe (France, Germany, United Kingdom); North America (Canada, Mexico, United States); Asia Pacific (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand); and Africa (South Africa).

The annual J.D. Power and Associates study is designed to help manufacturers provide high levels of satisfaction to their customers and gives consumers access to reliable and accurate information about many different vehicle models. More comprehensive study results are published exclusively in the July issue of L’Automobile Magazine on sale Thursday, 12 June, 2008.


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Ford of Europe sales grow 2.3% in challenging environment

Cologne, Germany - Ford of Europe's business momentum continued through May despite the challenging economic environment. Year-to-date sales in the company's 51 markets have risen by 18,400, to 828,300 vehicles – an increase of 2.3 percent compared with the same period last year.

"Our sales improvement in the first five months of the year reflects the growing appeal of our exciting and stylish range of vehicles," said Ingvar Sviggum, vice president, Marketing, Sales & Service, Ford of Europe. "And with our new models making an increasing impact, we are confident that we will continue to progress and sell more vehicles this year than we did in 2007, despite the challenging conditions in many markets."

Ford finished May with a market share of 8.7 percent in the traditional Euro 19 countries, unchanged from a year ago, despite lower sales of 132,200 units, which declined from 139,100 units a year ago.

When sales in Russia, Turkey and the 30 Ford European Direct Markets are added, Ford of Europe's sales in May totaled 165,500 units, down slightly from 165,900.

In the first five months of this year, Ford of Europe sold 683,100 vehicles in the Euro 19 markets, for a market share of 8.7 percent. Sales in Russia, Turkey and Ford's European Direct Markets added a further 145,200 units, taking the total to 828,300 units.

Ford's success in Russia continues with sales rising by more than 36.6 percent to 18,600 vehicles in May.

The new Focus again was Ford of Europe's top-selling model in May, selling 35,100 units across the Euro 19 markets, followed by the Fiesta, with 25,300 units. The Fiesta was the best-selling imported car in France and in Italy. May sales of the new Mondeo in the Euro 19 markets increased further to 15,300 units.

May was also another record month for the Transit commercial vehicle range in our traditional Euro 19 markets, with 15,700 vehicles sold.

In the UK, Spain and Turkey, Ford maintained its total vehicle market leadership on a year-to-date basis. Ford was also market leader in the UK and Turkey in the month of May.

"We are seeing lower consumer confidence in some of our established markets because of the continued rise in fuel prices and overall economic uncertainty, but that is countered by buoyant economies in other regions, notably in Russia," added Sviggum. "In Russia, industry sales are up 362,000 units year-to-date, and Ford is in a very strong position to grow sales thanks to our modern St. Petersburg plant, where we will increase capacity from September on."


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Ford's Model T Collector Savors Life in slow lane

Dearborn, Mich. - Jay Klehfoth was born into a General Motors family – but you wouldn’t guess it by looking in his garage. Klehfoth is the proud owner of four Ford Model Ts, the first of which he bought when he was only 13 years old.

“When my son was about six or seven, he used to tell people I bought my 1927 Model T Coupe new. He confused the fact that it was the first car I bought, not that I bought it new,” Klehfoth said, with a chuckle. “From the time I was very young, I had an interest in cars. I was attracted to the Model T because to me, it was the epitome of what an old car was like. Even though I was part of a GM family, I still loved the T.”

Klehfoth and his wife Barbara added three more Model Ts to their collection during the years: a 1923 English-built, right-hand drive Town Car, a 1925 Touring and a 1926 dirt track Racer.

The Klehfoths are playing a key role in the Model T Celebration planned for the week of July 20 in Richmond, Ind., which is sponsored by Ford Motor Company and the Ford Motor Company Fund. They also are active members of the Model T Ford Club of America (MTFCA); he is CEO and editor of Vintage Ford magazine, and she is the secretary and business manager; and they founded the Ford Model T Museum in Richmond.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Ford to celebrate this historic Model T milestone,” said Klehfoth. “We have 864 Model Ts registered for the event from 45 states and 8 countries.”

The event will draw up to 1,000 Model Ts, some from as far away as Australia. When these Model Ts line up in parade formation to wind their way through Richmond, Klehfoth expects to set a new Guinness World Record for the longest single-model car line.

The week-long event also will feature a 1930s airplane show, a vintage baseball game, an exhibition race at the 1916 race track nearby and other period-style events that celebrate simpler times, just as the Model T does.

“The world looks a whole lot different at 25 mph in the open air. Driving a Model T is not about the destination but the trip. It’s about stopping and seeing things that you don’t see on the interstate at 70 mph,” Klehfoth said. “You get to truly see Americana, people working in the fields and in small towns. Everyone waves. There’s something about a Model T that makes everyone smile.”

That’s in part why the MTFCA’s mission revolves around driving Model Ts. Klehfoth has given nearly every kid in his neighborhood a ride and takes his Ts to local elementary schools and retirement communities.

He likes to point out that even as a collectable vehicle, the Model T today stays true to Henry Ford’s original vision by remaining simple, durable and affordable.

“Henry Ford would be proud to know that his Model T is an antique vehicle that is still priced so that anyone can own one,” Klehfoth said. “Today, a Model T can be bought for as little as $1,500 and restored to working order with simple hand tools.”

Klehfoth hopes to pass on the hobby to the younger generations in his family. “My grandkids are always excited to visit and see what I am doing with my Model T,” he said. “I have planted the seed in them and hope it germinates when they have finished their education and careers.”


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Toyota Motor Concept Vehicles: A-BAT & Crown Concept

The A-BAT offers customers the versatility of hauling a standard 4x8 sheet of plywood one day, then taking a family on a camping trip the next. It features a four-foot bed with more flexibility than the standard pickup truck. The translucent roof panel slides open to allow for tall cargo in the cab; and the bed lengthens an additional two feet when the pass-through midgate is folded down into the cab.

The rugged exterior of the A-BAT is contrasted by the four-passenger modern interior. The door trim, shoulder, armrest and instrument panel pads and seat cushions are made of a tough, lightweight and comfortable material that can be selected for personalization. In addition, the colors are coordinated to enhance the sleek interior environment.

Inside, the A-BAT has a retractable, portable navigation unit with a seven-inch diagonal screen and Wi-Fi Internet. Other advanced features include a port for portable device assistant synchronization and a hard drive for digital music. The solar panels on the dash recapture energy from the sun to assist in the charging of the navigation unit, portable power pack and backlit information displays.

Crown Concept — innovative styling and superior driving performance
The Crown Concept's innovative styling and superior driving performance makes a shift in the Crown's concept of being "stationary" to being "active," raising the traditional feeling of hospitality to the world's highest level so as to propose the ideal for a next-generation luxury class sedan.


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Jun 16, 2008

Technocentre Renault roadshow gathered more than 50,000 people

More than 50,000 persons attended June 15 2008 to the Renault Roadshow that unfolded itself to the Technocentre (to Guyancourt in the Yvelines).

This event, the biggest one of this never organized type in France, unfolded itself in a family mood. Spectacle nail, Fernando Alonso, official pilot of ING Renault F1 Team, realized a show to the flying one Formula 1.

More than 50 000 employees of Renault and their close ones participated Sunday June 15 to the Renault Roadshow, organized by the business to the Technocentre (to Guyancourt in the Yvelines), to the occasion of the tenth birthday of the site. More than 10 sites of Renault were represented of which the Technocentre of course, the Seat and several factories.

This event is the biggest one never organized in France by a business for its employees. The public was able to attend a show of the Formula 1 pilot by Fernando Alonso, official pilot of ING Renault F1 Team and champion of the World TRUSTED the Pilots of Formula 1 2005 & 2006.

The public appreciated the organizations of simulation of worse stop; the garage ING Renault F1 Team and the parades of vehicles of collection and of Mégane Trophy. The children took advantage of a town and of organizations that completely were dedicated for them. Bernard Ollivier, Director of the Establishments Renault of guyancourt-aubevoye and of rueil-lardy thanked Fernando Alonso of his presence and greeted "enthusiasm generated by this unique event to the occasion of the 10 years of a site him so unique.


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Audi Triumphs again at the 24 Hours of Le Mans

INGOLSTADT, Germany and LE MANS, France - The Audi R10 TDI remains unbeaten in the Le Mans 24 Hour race: in its third attempt, the diesel sportscar won the French endurance classic yet again. After the incredible thrill of the 76th edition of the race, Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) triumphed at the wheel of the Audi R10 TDI number 2.

The widely anticipated duel between Audi and Peugeot definitely kept its promise: in front of a record crowd of 258,500 spectators, the two car manufacturers entered into a thrilling battle with their diesel sportscars which Audi finally won by a margin of 4m 31s.

During the entire race distance, the winning Audi R10 TDI and the best Peugeot 908 was never separated by more than a lap. After Peugeot initially set the pace, both the reliability and efficiency of the Audi R10 TDI gained the upper hand at night. After rain set in at Le Mans, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish took the lead at 05:17 and held it until the finish at 15:00 hours.

On a rain-soaked track, the Audi drivers fully profited from the superiority of Audi TDI Power and led the field by a margin of one lap. In addition, they took advantage of the fact that Audi Sport Team Joest had entered the race with a set-up that was the best compromise for both dry and wet track surfaces. Whilst the opposition had to change their cars during the race to a rain set-up, Audi only needed to change tyres.

Changing tyres, however, was an exercise that was practiced frequently as the conditions changed throughout the second half of the race owing to the weather. Slicks, intermediates, and rain tyres - it was crucial to take the most suitable tyres at the correct time.

Audi Sport Team Joest and the Audi drivers fully exploited their experience and operated faultlessly. The only frightening moment occurred in the dramatic final phase when there was a collision between the leading car and a backmarker involving the innocent Tom Kristensen. In that situation, the sheer strength of the Audi R10 TDI became visible as well. The car ran faultlessly without the slightest technical lapse during the 24 hours.

Scotsman Allan McNish scored his second Le Mans victory after his inaugural 1998 triumph - 2008 being his first win with Audi. Tom Kristensen, from Denmark, extended his existing record to eight Le Mans victories now. Italian Dindo Capello won for the third time after 2003 and 2004.

For Audi Sport Team Joest, it was the third successive victory with the Audi R10 TDI. Thus, a hat-trick has been achieved for the second time after 2000, 2001 and 2002: three Le Mans victories achieved by one team. The Le Mans winners' trophy that normally needs to be returned 12 months after each single victory is therefore in the possession of AUDI AG for good.

The other two Audi R10 TDI cars finished fourth and sixth. Youngsters Lucas Luhr, Alexandre Premat and Mike Rockenfeller were in contention for a podium finish until shortly before the end and had previously occupied third place. In the penultimate hour of the race, however, the oil filter of their V12 TDI engine had to be changed.

Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner also encountered bad luck: the winning trio of 2006 and 2007 lost all chances for a better result on Sunday morning when a clutch had to be changed owing to a spin and the subsequent re-start in second gear.

In its tenth attempt, Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hour race for the eighth time. Since 2000, Audi technology has been victorious at Le Mans. "This was a success of drivers, team and the efficiency of the Audi TDI technology - a triumph of reliability", said Rupert Stadler, Head of the Board of Management of AUDI AG who followed the race at Le Mans personally in the Audi pit garage. "It was the most tense Le Mans race I remember. We had a very strong opponent who had an extremely fast car. But once more, it became obvious that Le Mans particularly rewards reliability and efficiency. I am proud of this team. And every Audi employee and customer can be proud, too."

Audi, the inventor of TDI, is preparing to launch a diesel offensive in the North American market. The brand with the four rings will introduce the world's cleanest diesel to the U.S. market in early 2009, almost simultaneous with its introduction in Europe. The 3.0 TDI with its ultra low emission system, which fulfills the world's most stringent emission standards, will first be offered in the Audi Q7.

The ultra low emission system ensures that the engine conforms with the limits included in the LEV II Bin 5 standards that apply in all 50 U.S. states. Engine features optimize the combustion process along with engine emissions, while a cleaning system reduces nitrogen oxide exhaust emissions by up to 90%.


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Honda starts production for new FCX Clarity Fuel Cell Vehicle

TOKYO, Japan – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced that it has begun production of the new FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle, with the first vehicle (U.S. specification) coming off the line. In conjunction with the line-off event, media were allowed to view a number of the new production processes.

The FCX Clarity is produced at the Honda Automobile New Model Center (Takanezawa-machi, Shioya-gun, Tochigi Prefecture). A new dedicated fuel cell vehicle assembly line was established, which includes processes unique to a fuel cell vehicle such as the installation of the fuel cell stack and hydrogen tank. The fuel cell stack itself is produced at Honda Engineering Co., Ltd. (Haga-machi, Haga-gun, Tochigi Prefecture).

In manufacturing fuel cells, exclusively designed automated equipment was introduced to ensure quality of the highest precision while enabling mass production of cells, with several hundred cells required for each fuel cell stack. Through these initiatives, Honda is making steady progress in the area of fuel cell vehicle production, in addition to fuel cell and fuel cell vehicle technologies, thereby moving closer to realizing its goal to achieve more widespread use of fuel cell vehicles.

The FCX Clarity was designed from scratch as a dedicated fuel cell vehicle. It is powered by the highly compact, efficient and powerful Honda V Flow fuel cell stack. Boasting a low-slung, dynamic and sophisticated appearance made possible by the innovative layout of the fuel cell power plant, the FCX Clarity offers superior design and driving performance as well as environmental responsibility.

Lease sales are scheduled to begin in July in the U.S. and this fall in Japan. The combined sales plan for Japan and the U.S. calls for a few dozen units within a year and about 200 units within three years. Additionally, the FCX Clarity will be exhibited at the Environmental Showcase in the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit to begin July 7, as one of a group of advanced environmental technologies.


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Jun 14, 2008

Renault worldwide sales up 4.7%

In May 2008, the Renault group sold 219,801 vehicles (PC+LCVs) worldwide under its three brands. Renault, Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors, up 1.1% compared with 2007. Renault reported a 4.7% increase in worldwide sales, while Dacia and Renault Samsung Motors posted a fall in sales of 21.6% and 9.7% respectively.

In Europe1, the market contracted strongly (-7.3%) but Renault group sales held up well at 140,412 units in May, a downturn of just -0.7%. The group increased its market share by 0.7 points to 9.2%. Renault remained in second position for PC+LCVs sales for the second month running. France2 turned in strong figures, with a 17% leap in registrations in May, consolidating Renault's No. 1 position in this country with market share (PC+LCVs) of 25.4%. Renault also posted strong sales increases in the Netherlands (+48.5%), Belgium (+10%), Switzerland (+8.5%) and Austria (+3.9%), where markets were also dynamic.

New Twingo more than doubled sales with 12,254 units sold. New Laguna sold more than 9,600 units, while Laguna Estate has totaled nearly 20,700 sales since launch. Laguna GT, launched this month, received a warm welcome from the first customers and the sales network. Sales of Clio Estate (4,577), Kangoo car (3,969), Modus and Grand Modus (7,731) remain buoyant.

In Europe in May, Dacia sales were on a downward trend (-18.3%) compared with the high levels of 2007, which correspond to Logan MCV's first months on the market. Sandero, which makes its debut in June, will expand a range currently made up of Logan sedan and Logan MCV.

Outside Europe, Group sales rose 4.4%
In the Americas region, in a market that expanded slightly (+4.9%), the Renault group continued to report strong sales growth (+21.6%) driven by Brazil and Argentina. In Brazil, Group sales doubled to total 11,221 units. In Argentina, sales grew by more than 36.8%. Sandero is a success in the region. It has sold more than 16,800 units in Brazil and Argentina since launch.

In the Euromed region, in an expanding market (+17.5%), Renault group sells fell by 5.6% in May. In Romania, the Group maintained market share of more than 34% despite a downturn in sales (-40.2%) that can be attributed to two factors: buyers waiting for the launch of Sandero and the arrival in June of a vehicle scrappage scheme. In a highly dynamic Russian market (+22.4%), sales totaled more than 10,700 units in May. In Morocco, sales once more reached a record high, surging by 18.9%. In Algeria, sales continued to grow steadily (29.7%).

In Asia-Africa, the Group posted sales growth of 8.4% in May on an expanding market (+6.4%). RSM sales in Korea fell by 9.3%. A total 1,531 Logan units have been sold in India and more than 4,400 delivered to Iran.


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ETA announces names of 'Green Car of the Year 2008'

LONDON - The Toyota Yaris has been named Green Car of the Year 2008 by the Environmental Transport Association. The least green car is the Dodge SRT-10 sports car. The announcements come ahead of the start of Green Transport Week (14th - 22nd June)

The Environmental Transport Association has looked at over 1300 models of car currently on sale in Britain and examined their power, emissions, fuel efficiency and even the amount of noise they produce to create the definitive guide to buying the greenest vehicle.

The Car Buyers' Guide was first published by the ETA in 1992 in response to requests from its growing membership and has since become the environmental benchmark for the car industry and the public, championing the greenest cars in Britain.

The results are as follows:
Overall Winner: Toyota Yaris
Overall worst: Dodge SRT-10

Category Winners
Supermini: Toyota Yaris
Small Family: Honda Civic Hybrid
Small MPV: Renault Modus
City: Citroen C1
Large Family: BMW 3 Series 320d Saloon
Sports: Vauxhall Tigra, MY2008 2-door Convertible
MPV: Peugeot 207 SW Outdoor
Executive: BMW 5 Series 520d Saloon
Off road: Toyota RAV4
Luxury: JAGUAR XJ 2.7L Diesel Saloon

Andrew Davis, director at the Environmental Transport Association, said: "With the increasing costs of motoring and the threat to the environment there has never been a more important time to choose greener cars."

As well as recognising the best performers, the guide 'names and shames' the worst offenders in terms of damage to the environment with the 8-litre-engined Dodge SRT-10 being named overall worst car.

"The discrepancy between the best and worst - the greenest and the least green cars in Britain today - is striking, but the market is changing and a combination of consumer pressure alongside government leadership will result in an increasing choice of environmentally-sound cars."

"The big problem is not the Dodge SRT-10s and Lamborghinis because there are not many of them on the road," explains Andrew Davis, director of the ETA. "The concern is that people are buying cars that are much too big for their real needs."


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Goodyear headlines fuel savings with key vehicle fitments

AKRON, Ohio - As fuel prices continue to climb, most consumers are searching for ways to achieve improved gas mileage, and North America's largest tire maker has some advice. A recent posting by the U.S. Department of Energy lists the most fuel-efficient vehicles by category, and tires produced by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company outfit six of the eight category leaders.

No other tire manufacturer has as many standard fitments on the top gas-savers on the list as Goodyear. In addition to being the tire of choice for the most fuel-efficient car overall, the Toyota Prius, Goodyear claims standard fitments on these category-leading vehicles:

- Mini Cooper (Minicompact)
- Toyota Yaris (Subcompact)
- Honda Civic Hybrid (Compact)
- Honda Accord (Large Car)
- Honda Fit (Small Station Wagon)

The Prius is considered the most efficient "Midsize" car, according to the list.

"In addition to leading the way on this list, Goodyear has more OE fitments (tires on new vehicles) than any other tire manufacturer," according to Joey Viselli, Goodyear brand director. "This is significant because of the importance automakers place on overall vehicle fuel efficiency and CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirements."

Tire manufacturers work to develop products that contribute to a vehicle's fuel mileage ratings. However, as the only four touch-points on the roadway, tires also must provide grip and traction for start-up, cornering and braking, along with performance in all sorts of weather and on varying road surfaces, long tread life and a comfortable ride.

Goodyear's industry leadership in fuel-efficient tires is evident in many other examples:

- Along with key fitments on the most fuel-efficient cars, development work continues by Goodyear on various low rolling resistance and environmentally friendly tires with distinctive rubber compounds using special ingredients such as silica, biofillers, functionalized polymers and more.

- Concept and production tires from Goodyear have been featured on fuel-saving vehicles displayed at automotive gatherings within the past year, including the Toyota FCHV (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle), Dodge Durango Hybrid, Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell and more.

- Earlier this year, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Goodyear tires were seen on many vehicles in the "fuel-saving" segment, including the Dodge ZEO Concept (electric car), Saab 9-4X BioPower Concept, and Toyota A-BAT.

- A recently announced new vehicle fitment - a specially compounded Goodyear Integrity tire - is on the 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt XFE, a fuel-efficient car that claims 3 mpg savings versus a conventional Cobalt.

Tires' importance at the gas pump is growing as gas prices climb. As of June 10, average U.S. retail gasoline prices had jumped nearly one dollar versus year-earlier prices, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The pump price had risen to a nationwide average of more than $4.04 per gallon (regular grade), and as high as a $4.47 per gallon average on the west coast.

When tire care is factored in, the rising fuel prices become even more critical.

According to Goodyear, running a tire 20 percent underinflated – only 5 to 7 pounds per square inch -- can increase fuel consumption by 3 percent. Not only that, but the tire's tread life is reduced by underinflation.

The Energy Department has reported that every pound per square inch of tire underinflation wastes 4 million gallons of gas daily in the U.S. At today's prices and with more vehicles on the road, that's a huge expense. An underinflated tire deflects more energy and increases rolling resistance, which robs the vehicle of fuel efficiency.

At Goodyear-owned tire and service outlets, consumers can participate in the company's "Free Air" program and have their tires checked for free, including an inspection of tread condition and tire inflation. Air will be added as needed, free of charge.

Goodyear recommends that motorists should check tire inflation at least monthly and before any long trip. Tires should be inflated to the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations printed on the vehicle door placard or in the owner's manual, not the maximum limit stamped on a tire sidewall.


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Audi jumps 16 places in JD Power rankings

The results of the recently published “J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Initial Quality Survey” are clear: Audi is the most improved carmaker in terms of initial product quality, climbing 16 places to number 10.

“An important quality driver for us is the dialogue with our customers. We incorporate their wishes and suggestions into the early phases of vehicle development,” says Johan de Nysschen, Executive Vice President of Audi of America. “But we want to set the bar even higher in the future,” he adds.

The quality study by J.D. Power, an American market research company, is considered by the automotive industry to be a benchmark for new car quality in the first 90 days. In addition to objective reliability, the survey also focuses on the subjective impressions of new car customers.


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Jun 10, 2008

Lithia Motors BOD approves quarterly dividend

MEDFORD, Ore. - Lithia Motors, Inc today announced that the Board of Directors has approved a dividend of $0.14 per share for the second quarter of 2008. Lithia will pay the dividend July 29 to shareholders of record on July 15, 2008.

Lithia Motors, Inc. is a Fortune 700 and Russell 2000 Company. Lithia sells 28 brands of new and all brands of used vehicles at 110 stores which are located in 46 markets within 15 states. Internet sales are centralized at its website, or through the recently launched www.L2Auto.com.

Lithia also sells used vehicles; arranges finance, warranty, and credit insurance contracts; and provides vehicle parts, maintenance, and repair services at all of its locations. Lithia retailed 105,108 new and used vehicles and had $3.22 billion in total revenue in 2007.


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Suzuki Auto May sales up 2%

REA, Calif. - American Suzuki Motor Corp. today announced automotive sales of 10,364 units in May, an increase of two percent over May 2007 and the best May sales in company history. The monthly results bring Suzuki’s year-to-date figures to 46,463 vehicles.

Suzuki sales continue to be fueled by the popular SX4 model line, which sold an impressive 3,970 units, an increase of 158 percent over 2007. Sales of the XL7 crossover SUV and Grand Vitara compact SUV also contributed to Suzuki’s May increase with 1,497 and 1,455 units sold, respectively.

“In spite of the challenges facing the U.S. economy, Suzuki’s record-setting May and strong 2008 sales have helped us continue to gain market share in a competitive automotive landscape,” said Mark Harano, president of American Suzuki Automotive Operations. “And with our current line of fuel-efficient, affordable vehicles, driven by the dynamic SX4 Sport and SX4 Crossover, we’re confident that our sales momentum will continue well into the summer driving season and beyond.”

Suzuki Auto’s versatile line of vehicles includes the spirited four-door SX4 Sport, bold and functional five-door SX4 Crossover, exciting XL7 midsize crossover SUV, rugged Grand Vitara compact SUV, popular Forenza sedan and Forenza Wagon, and the European-styled Reno. Every vehicle in the line provides Suzuki’s standout virtues of toughness, leading-edge style and high-end features at very competitive prices. All 2008 Suzuki automobiles are backed by America’s #1 Warranty: a 100,000-mile/seven-year, fully transferable, zero-deductible powertrain limited warranty.

The Brea, Calif.-based Automotive Operations of American Suzuki Motor Corporation was founded in 1985 by parent company Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) and currently markets its vehicles in the United States through a network of approximately 500 automotive dealerships in 49 states. Based in Hamamatsu, Japan, SMC is a diversified worldwide automobile, motorcycle and outboard motor manufacturer with sales of more than two million new automobiles annually.


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Jun 9, 2008

Mitsubishi donates 15 vehicles to Canadian teaching facilities

MISSISSAUGA, ON - Today, Mitsubishi Motor Sales Of Canada Inc. (MMSCAN) announced that it will donate 15 vehicles to support Canadian teaching facilities across the country.

This announcement was made during a ceremony at the Alberta Vehicle Extrication Association's (AVEA) head office in Calgary where Mitsubishi presented AVEA with a 2008 Lancer sedan.

AVEA is one of the organizations in Canada that will receive a vehicle for training purposes, where it will be used for teaching firefighters in roadside rescue missions.

Randy Schmitz, Alberta Chair for AVEA was on hand to receive the keys to a 2008 Lancer from Peter Boutros, Manager, Technical Services for MMSCAN. This ceremony marked the beginning of the donations to teaching facilities across the country.

"We're honored to be able to support organizations like AVEA," said Boutros. Traffic and vehicle safety is a big concern for all of us and with summer fast approaching it's top of mind."

"Receiving this vehicle will enable all of us to simulate real life road accidents, test our knowledge and to learn additional life saving skills," said Schmitz. "We'll share this valuable information with other fire departments, where it will be applied to help save lives in the real world."

AVEA trains firefighters in extrication, a skill that's becoming more and more hazardous and complex as car manufacturers meet new passenger-safety standards to make their vehicles safer and more crash worthy.

One way rescuers can increase extrication proficiency is by attending vehicle extrication challenges, such as the ones organized by AVEA. Every year since 1984, rescue personnel in Canada and the U.S. have assembled six-member teams to compete in simulated road accidents that test their skills, experience and knowledge.

During training sessions and competitions, vehicles are crushed together along with other props, such as fire hydrants, telephone poles, concrete barriers and any other object that could be involved in a real accident. A live "patient" then climbs into the wreckage and awaits rescue. The team is summoned to the area and the 20-minute timer starts.

Additional organizations that will be receiving one or more vehicles include, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), Red Deer College, Centennial College, Mohawk College, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the Ontario Police College.

Mitsubishi Motor Sales of Canada, Inc (MMSCAN), is the exclusive Canadian distributor of a full line of Mitsubishi Motors' brand passenger cars and sport utility vehicles. MMSCAN markets three categories of vehicles - sedans, sporty cars and sport utility vehicles - consisting of six distinctive vehicles covering a broad market range.


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Volkswagen & Bliss offer customers day of indulgence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Volkswagen of America, Inc. has paired ignitions with indulgence as a result of its partnership with Bliss Spa. On Saturday, June 7 at the North Scottsdale Volkswagen dealership, customers can enjoy select spa treatments after test driving Volkswagen vehicles, enter to win a complimentary manicure, facial or massage, and sample brownies in the Bliss "You Be The Fudge" contest.

"Volkswagen is excited to partner with a like-minded brand such as Bliss," said Mya Walters, Manager Lifestyle Public Relations, Volkswagen of America, Inc. "Volkswagen welcomes opportunities to show our customer appreciation and we're happy to collaborate with Bliss to offer unique and exciting amenities to our customers visiting the dealership."

An air-conditioned tent will be erected on site where Volkswagen customers will receive complimentary Bliss product samples as well as experience a relaxing hand/arm massage after a test drive. Patrons won't leave with an empty stomach, as all customers are welcome to indulge in chocolate fudge brownies to see which recipe will win the Bliss Scottsdale "You Be The Fudge" contest. Customers can also enter to win one of three Bliss Spa treatment giveaways just by showing up. The live drawing will take place at 4pm.

Volkswagen has a long-standing connection with Bliss through its infamous Blissmobile -- a 1966 Volkswagen MicroBus decked out in blue accents and eyelashes. The Blissmobile travels to major cities complete with a brownie buffet inside ready to crown the next title in the "You Be The Fudge" contest, serving up Bliss products to people on the street. The Volkswagen Blissmobile will be present at the North Scottsdale Volkswagen dealership on June 7 along with the rest of the current VW line-up.

Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc. is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. Volkswagen is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. Volkswagen sells the Rabbit, New Beetle, New Beetle convertible, GTI, Jetta, GLI, Passat, Passat wagon, Eos, and Touareg through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.


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Mercedes-Benz USA appoints new Manager of brand public relations

MONTVALE, N.J. - Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) announced the appointment of Adam Paige to the position of manager of brand public relations for MBUSA, effective immediately.

In this role, Paige is responsible for all communications strategies and activities in support of brand public relations across Mercedes-Benz portfolio of lifestyle and classic car initiatives. Paige reports to Geoff Day, director, corporate communications.

Paige brings more than a decade of brand and corporate communications experience to MBUSA. Most recently, he served as a vice president at Cohn & Wolfe, a mid-sized public relations agency based in Manhattan.

Paige has worked on numerous product introductions including the U.S. launch of Tanqueray Rangpur and Plymouth Gin, and global launch of Digicel, a telecommunications provider in the Caribbean. During his tenure at Cohn & Wolfe, he created and launched brand public relations programs for clients including Ford, Panasonic, and Michelin.

Prior to Cohn & Wolfe, Paige served as an event coordinator for The Rockefeller University and The City of Albany Office of Special Events.

A resident of Brooklyn Heights, Paige holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from State University at Albany in Albany, NY and studied film at the University of North London.


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Infiniti announces pricing on 2009 FX50 & FX35

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Infiniti today announced pricing on the all-new 2009 Infiniti FX luxury crossover SUV, which goes on sale June 24 at Infiniti retailers in the United States and Canada. The all-new FX is a showcase of Infiniti's design and technology leadership, offering exceptional levels of power, refinement, versatility and driving exhilaration.

The 2009 Infiniti FX is available in three models: FX50 AWD with a new 390-horsepower 5.0-liter 32-valve DOHC V8 engine Variable Valve Event & Lift (VVEL), and the FX35 AWD and FX35 RWD with a 303-horsepower 24-valve DOHC 3.5- liter V6. Each engine is paired with a new, standard 7-speed automatic transmission featuring Adaptive Shift Control (ASC) and available solid magnesium paddle shifters.

The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP)* of each model is:
- $40,950 for the FX35 RWD
- $42,350 for the FX35 AWD
- $56,700 for the FX50 AWD

Along with an aerodynamic, rigid yet lightweight body structure and sporty FM platform, the new FX features an extensive list of available equipment and technology, including available Continuous Damping Control (CDC)(R), Rear Active Steer, Intelligent Brake Assist and 21-inch super lightweight aluminum- alloy wheels designed by Enkei.

Inside, the new FX interior provides a warm, modern, inviting environment highlighted by a driver-oriented cockpit with intuitive controls, available sport seating and advanced audio, navigation and technology - ranging from an 11-speaker Bose(R)-developed audio system to nfiniti Intelligent Key, available Intelligent Cruise Control (Full Speed Range) and available Around View Monitor system.

The new FX offers an industry-first safety technology – Distance control Assist (DCA), which reduces the burden of driving in heavy traffic by intuitively helping to release the throttle and apply the brakes to maintain a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. Also available is Intelligent Brake Assist (IBA), which provides forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking, along with a Lane Departure Warning/Lane Departure Prevention system, which helps keep the vehicle in its travel lane.

2009 Infiniti FX equipment packages include the Technology Package, Infiniti Mobile Entertainment Package, Premium Package, Navigation Package, Deluxe Touring Package, Sport Package and 21-inch Summer Tires.

"The new Infiniti FX is a technology tour de force, with a number of advanced systems designed to enhance the driving experience," said Mark Igo, vice president and general manager, Infiniti Division, Nissan North America, Inc. "With its newly designed 5.0-liter V8, the new FX50 model is one of the most exciting performers in its class, while the FX35 continues to offer a unique balance of style, luxury, utility and driving pleasure."

Infiniti offers a full-line of luxury performance automobiles, including the G sports coupe and sedan, the M luxury performance sedan, FX premium crossover SUV, QX full-size luxury SUV, and the EX personal luxury crossover. More information about Infiniti and its Total Ownership Experience can be found at Infiniti.com.


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Kongsberg Automotive - Notification of Annual General Meeting

The Board of Directors hereby notifies shareholders of the ordinary Annual General Meeting of Kongsberg Automotive Holding ASA.

Time: 12 p.m. on Thursday, 12 June 2008
Venue: Hoyres Hus, Stortingsgaten 20, Oslo, Norway.

Kongsberg Automotive is headquartered in Kongsberg, Norway and has more than 50 facilities in 20 countries on all continents. Kongsberg Automotive, with revenues of about EUR1 billion and over 11,000 employees, provides system solutions to vehicle makers around the world.

The product portfolio includes gearshift systems, cables for a wide variety of applications, fuel lines, tubing and hoses, couplings, clutch actuation, stabilizing rods, seat heaters, seat ventilation, lumbar supports, head restrains, arm rests, steering columns, pedals, electronics and displays.


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Jun 7, 2008

Maruti Suzuki launches Maruti 800 Duo

Car market leader Maruti Suzuki India Limited set out to delight its customers on World Environment Day by launching the Maruti 800 Duo, a new variant that runs on petrol as well as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Speaking on the occasion, Mayank Pareek, Executive Officer, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki said, "Dual fuel vehicles have always formed a prominent part of our overall product strategy. We are happy to launch the Maruti 800 Duo on the World Environment day as it uses LPG, an environment friendly cleaner fuel. Besides, the car is economical to drive and being factory fitted, it is completely safe."

"The success of Maruti Suzuki's dual fuel models like the WagonR and the Omni Cargo is a clear reflection of the customer preference towards products that are safe and light on pocket and at the same time environment friendly. We are sure that the Maruti 800 Duo will find favour with the customers for the greater value for money to her" he added.

Coinciding with this launch, the company announced that it has sold almost 125,000 cars that are powered by LPG and CNG fuels.

Besides the Maruti 800, the company offers Omni and WagonR in dual fuel options (LPG-cum- petrol) As such, Maruti Suzuki is the only manufacturer in the country to offer alternate fuel vehicles across entry level, compact and commercial segments.

Power and Performance
The Maruti 800 Duo works on Gas Mixer System based on Integrated Gas Technology which results in optimum performance and superior emissions. The Maruti 800 Duo delivers a power of 35ps@5000 rpm and torque of 56Nm@2500 rpm. The LPG variant emits 10% lower CO2 than the petrol variant, hence is environment friendly.

Designed in-house by a team of 24 engineers, the Maruti 800 Duo saw active participation of some of the young engineers in the company.

The concept of the project was to make a cost effective LPG variant, which would deliver the performance equivalent to the Injection systems.

The learning's from previous products like Omni LPG (2004) & Wagon R Duo (2006) have been integrated into the Maruti 800 Duo to ensure that optimum power and torque levels are maintained at the same levels as the petrol variant.

Maruti 800 Duo is manufactured at the company's Gurgaon plant. The components of the Maruti 800 Duo are fitted on-line along side the petrol variant of the car, hence ensuring excellent quality levels. Like the other products in the company's portfolio, the Maruti 800 Duo undergoes all stringent checks as per Maruti Suzuki quality standards before being rolled out from the assembly lines. The factory-fitted Maruti 800 Duo enjoys full warranty benefits, which are available on other car models. Thus, Maruti 800 Duo will provide the customers benefits of lower running cost, without the risk associated with unapproved, after market LPG kits.

The LPG kit in the Maruti 800 Duo is approved by Department of Explosives, tested and certified by Automotive Research Association of India, country's premier automobile testing and certifying authority.

Maruti 800 Duo is available in a range of five colours.

Alternative fuels
Maruti Suzuki pioneered the alternate fuel scenario in the country by introducing Factory fitted models starting from 2001.

These regularly introduced dual fuel variants have found special favour amongst fleet operators and commercial users, for the excellent low running costs and low maintenance cycles.

The LPG variants constitute around 23 per cent of national sales for Wagon R and Omni.

With the launch of Maruti 800 Duo the company would have a greater presence in the alternative fuel cars in the country.

Introductory Price
The prices of Maruti 800 Duo in Delhi are:


Price Ex showroom Delhi (Rs) (Non metallic colours)

Maruti 800 Standard LPG


Maruti 800 AC LPG



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TRW Automotive outlines new frontier of intelligent safety

PARIS – TRW Automotive Holdings Corp today outlined how its portfolio of intelligent safety systems can support vehicle manufacturers in meeting the challenge of reducing both the impact of traffic accidents and emissions. The Company's 'Cognitive Safety Systems' help protect drivers and their passengers and assist in avoiding and mitigating accidents. In addition, TRW boasts a range of fuel efficient technologies to support its customers and consumers in their environmental efforts.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.2 million people lose their lives in road traffic accidents each year. Research for the European Commission's '2010 Intelligent Car Initiative' cited that 76 percent of all accidents are due to driver error.

Speaking at an international customer and media event in Paris, France, hosted by TRW, Peter Lake, TRW's executive vice president, explained: "We're not talking about just safety, but about intelligent or 'thinking' safety - this means technology that can support drivers and help mitigate the impact of traffic accidents."

"TRW's Cognitive Safety Systems are at the center of the broadest portfolio of safety technologies of any automotive supplier. By combining this breadth of active and passive technology with our electronics and sensing capabilities, we are able to offer systems that provide tangible safety benefits to drivers and their passengers."

"In addition, we have focused on delivering those fuel efficient technologies we believe have the biggest cost/benefit impact. TRW's range of electrically assisted steering and hybrid enabling braking technologies are proving their efficiency and value across a wide range of models. These systems are key enablers of both intelligent safety and fuel economy."

TRW Automotive has developed a suite of environmental sensors including long- and medium-range radar, short-range radar, video sensors, steering and roll angle sensors and yaw rate and velocity sensors. Together these sensors create a more complete picture of the driving environment and help enable the most appropriate engagement of the integrated safety subsystems.

Lake added: "The intelligence in our systems has evolved. In the past, systems were purely reactive to driver inputs; they moved to become responsive and to interpret a driver's intent - but still depended on input (for instance brake assist increases the brake force when the system 'learns' that the pedal force isn't sufficient for the situation). And now, with the appropriate level of information about the driving environment - through the use of multiple sensor sources - the systems can ultimately take autonomous action to lessen the severity of an unavoidable incident - regardless of whether a driver hits the brake pedal or moves the steering wheel.

"We can move toward this higher level of safety due to the knowledge of our engineers and their proven experience in the development of subcomponents, electronics, systems and their integration."

Lake concluded: "Cognitive Safety represents the sum of our technical knowledge, the breadth of our product portfolio and our commitment to remain at the leading edge of developing advanced safety systems. It is the ultimate expression of TRW's efforts to advance the intelligence of safety."

With 2007 sales of $14.7 billion, TRW Automotive ranks among the world's leading automotive suppliers. Headquartered in Livonia, Michigan, USA, the Company, through its subsidiaries, operates in 27 countries and employs more than 66,000 people worldwide.


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TRW Automotive reveals advanced automatic emergency braking systems

PARIS - TRW Automotive Holdings Corp today announced the development of its latest intelligent safety system -- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB). The system can potentially mitigate the severity of accidents and therefore help reduce the dangers to drivers and passengers.

AEB combines advanced environmental sensing and brake systems to slow a vehicle and potentially lessen the severity of an impact when a collision is unavoidable.

"Automatic Emergency Braking is the ultimate expression of TRW's suite of pre-crash automotive technologies," said Josef Pickenhahn, vice president of braking engineering for TRW. "AEB combines advanced driver assist systems and premium electronic stability control to rapidly decelerate the vehicle with or without driver intervention if a crash is determined to be inevitable."

TRW's AEB systems can utilize Long Range Radar (LRR) or Medium Range Radar (MRR) in combination with a video camera (usually mounted behind the rear view mirror facing forward through the windshield). These sensors independently gather data -- the LRR or MRR looks forward in a long but narrower field of view while the camera covers a wider field of view and helps detect and classify objects such as other vehicles.

The data gathered by each of these sensors is fed to the control unit and is constantly compared every 40 milliseconds in what is called data fusion. Both sensors need to independently verify the criticality of a foreseeable crash and confirm that AEB should be deployed. The rapid deceleration of the vehicle can then be accomplished through the use of a premium electronic stability control unit that can build high levels of brake pressure quickly.

Pickenhahn added: "AEB is another example of a Cognitive Safety System that is constantly sensing the environment, analyzing the situation and acting in the most appropriate way to help keep drivers and passengers safer."

With 2007 sales of $14.7 billion, TRW Automotive ranks among the world's leading automotive suppliers. Headquartered in Livonia, Michigan, USA, the Company, through its subsidiaries, operates in 27 countries and employs more than 66,000 people worldwide. TRW Automotive products include integrated vehicle control and driver assist systems, braking systems, steering systems, suspension systems, occupant safety systems (seat belts and airbags), electronics, engine components, fastening systems and aftermarket replacement parts and services.


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Toyota to provide vehicles to G8 Summit

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announced that it will provide 78 conventional hybrid and other environmentally friendly vehicles for official use and demonstration at the July 7-9 G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit.

The vehicles will be used to transport participating country officials, shuttle media and government representatives and serve as next-generation test ride vehicles as part of the summit's Environmental Showcase of environmentally related displays and demonstrations at the venue's International Media Center.

TMC provided the environmentally friendly vehicles in response to a Japanese government request to help ensure that the summit and the preparations for it are as environmentally considerate as possible. This is especially because one of the major themes of the summit is the environment, particularly measures aimed at combating global warming.

TMC will provide (including backup vehicles) 11 Lexus LS600h/LS600hL sedans, 15 Crown Hybrid sedans and 43 Estima Hybrid minivans for transporting participant country officials. In addition, five units of the hydrogen-powered Toyota FCHV-BUS will be used for shuttling government and media representatives.

The test ride vehicles for the Environmental Showcase will include one Toyota Plug-in HV, two battery-powered i-REAL personal mobility vehicles and a TOYOTA FCHV-adv. Also at the Environmental Showcase, TMC will put on technological displays that include a stationary fuel cell and a high-pressure hydrogen tank developed by TMC for fuel cell vehicles.

Some of the aforementioned vehicles will also serve the June 7-8 Energy Ministers Meeting in Aomori Prefecture and the June 15 G8 Science and Technology Ministers Meeting in Okinawa Prefecture.


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General Motors India celebrates World Environment Day

New Delhi: General Motors India, in association with the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) organized a free-of-cost, national ‘Pollution Check Campaign’ across 53 GM India dealerships to commemorate World Environment Day, observed every year on June 5.

Customers’ vehicles participating in the campaign were tested with state-of-the-art equipment and by qualified technicians at GM India dealerships to measure and suggest corrective measures of any anomalies in vehicular emissions as per the prevailing norms. More than 1300 vehicles were tested on World Environment Day across 53 GM India dealerships. Certificates were issued to all the vehicles participating in the campaign.

Commenting on this unique initiative, P. Balendran, Vice President, GM India said, “GM India remains committed to empowering citizens to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development, while promoting judicious use of natural resources available today. We are pleased to have recorded a huge turnout of participants for this campaign which aimed to promote an understanding that communities are pivotal in changing attitudes towards environmental issues and ensuring that we enjoy a prosperous future.”

General Motors India is a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Motors Corporation, with a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Halol, Gujarat. The company makes the Chevrolet Tavera, Chevrolet Optra, Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Aveo U-VA, Chevrolet Optra SRV and Chevrolet Captiva for the Indian market.


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Shop for Father's Day on Infibeam.com

Placing orders for gifts on father's day has never been so easy at Infibeam. On this august occasion, browse through Infibeam's online store of books, watches, mobiles, health equipment, cars, designer cars, and bikes to make a loving gift to your dad.

Infibeam.comFather's day is a significant secular festival celebrating the positive role that fathers play in the family. This event is widely celebrated in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, the European Union, and other countries.

Of late, this festival has become popular in India too. Since ancient times, Indians has a tradition of respecting and venerating their parents for their countless services to their children. On this day, children thank their fathers for the innumerable acts of benevolence and kindness towards them.

Celebrating Father's day, children buy gifts and cards for their fathers and guardians. Today's modern generation has taken to the internet in a big way. There are many websites on the internet that cater to the needs of children for gifts and cards on Father's day.

Reacting to this trend, Mr. Vishal Mehta CEO of Infibeam.com commented, "Infibeam celebrates Father's day by offering variety of products like mobile phones, watches, health equipment, books and cameras at very attractive prices for this venerable occasion."

Additionally, Infibeam.com has a range of cars, designer cars and bikes too, where people can book the vehicle of their choice simply by getting online and following a short sequence of simple clicks to place their order. Yet another exciting online feature is the 'used' section where used cars, bikes, watches, and mobiles are on display after pre-approval and ensuring the validity of such inquiries.

Infibeam.com presently ships all products ordered through it; FREE for a limited period offer. Customers who order products online will obtain their orders normally within 72 hours of placing their order. However, Infibeam will ship orders within India only.

Another area that Infibeam.com currently wishes to tap is the NRI and the NRG segment who wish to present their near and dear ones with gifts and products. This segment can definitely look forward to Infibeam.com for fulfilling their needs reliably, promptly, and at the most economical costs.


About Infibeam.com
In the shortest span of time since its launch, Infibeam.com has achieved credibility as a reliable one-stop online source for products like cars, bikes, designer cars, mobile phones, health equipment, watches, books, cameras and now father's day.

On Father's day, Infibeam.com has launched a festival store to celebrate this occasion. Individuals, family members and children can login and place orders for gifts for their fathers and guardians.

With more than three million footfalls each month, the website has attained an enviable status for offering reputed company brands and products at the most competitive rates through a uniquely designed online platform.

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Jun 6, 2008

Winners announce at Ward's Auto Interior Show

Detroit - For the first time in several years, foreign nameplates outshined domestic competitors for top honors in the 2008 Ward's "Interior of the Year" Awards. And unlike previous years, no brand won more than a single award.

Chosen by the editors of Ward's Automotive Group, the prestigious awards were presented today to executives of the automakers at a special program held on the floor of the Ward's Auto Interiors Show at Detroit's Cobo Center.

In all, 36 vehicles from 13 manufacturers were in contention to win an "Interior of the Year" award. The editorial staff of Ward's conducted a two-month review of the 36 nominated vehicles and selected the winners based on eight evaluation categories including material selection; ergonomics; driver information; safety; overall value; comfort; fit and finish; and aesthetics and design harmony. Winners were decided by overall points earned. To be eligible for the competition, the vehicle or its interior had to be new in 2008.

And the "Interior of the Year" winners are....

Car Category:
Ward's editors voted the Suzuki SX4 Sport the best interior in Economy-Priced Cars (-$16,999). The editors praised the SX4 dashboard as a clean, simple alternative to button-happy center stacks. The attractive faux metallic trim surrounding the audio and climate controls as well as the leather-wrapped steering wheel sealed the deal. They concluded the SX4 proves an inexpensive car doesn't have to be a cheap one.

The remodeled Chevy Malibu, winner of the Popular-Priced Cars ($17,000 - $29,999) category, won kudos for its dramatically different, modern and appealing interior. The editors said the harmonious design creates an upscale aura that demonstrates the successful execution of a singular design strategy by a team with a united vision. The editors' general consensus was that the Malibu is a great value.

"The Jaguar XF interior has redefined luxury, creating a fantasy that sells the car like few other vehicles tested this year," says Drew Winter, Ward's AutoWorld editor-in-chief, describing the winner of the Premium-Priced Car segment (+$30,000). "The XF's interior exudes luxury and personality as if it were creating it by photosynthesis. Push the pulsating start button and it literally comes alive. The air vent doors open in unison, and the unique circular gearshift dial emerges from a recess in the center console. It gets your blood moving and makes you feel special from the moment you sit down."

The editors selected the Audi TT as winner of a new category this year-Sports Cars (+$30,000). The TT garnered praise from the Ward's staff for its soft, high-quality materials and precise switchgear, as well as its contemporary design. Editors were impressed with the car's premium feel, sporty seats and an IP with white-on-black gauges and brushed-metallic accents.

Truck Category:
Ward's editors were effusive with praise for the affordable 6-passenger Mazda5 CUV, winner of the Popular-Priced Truck category (-$34,999). The Mazda5, particularly its interior, could very well redefine trucks for a new generation of consumers. It offers all the convenience of a car, truck and minivan, combined, the editors said. One staffer called it, "one of the most functional vehicles ever." With a lively, fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine and room for six, the editors said the Mazda5 is the kind of vehicle many Americans will crave as gas prices soar.

Despite some very tough competition, the Chrysler Town & Country was named winner of the Premium-Priced Trucks category (+$35,000). The editors cited a feature-laden interior with elegant discreet ambient lighting, richly upholstered seats and Chrysler's exclusive MyGIG infotainment system as reasons it outscored formidable nominees. Furthermore, the editors were impressed with Swivel 'n Go seating that allows second-row passengers to face rearward safely and comfortably, an advancement the editors say "portends true sociopolitical advancement."

Special Achievement Awards:
In addition to the vehicle awards recognizing overall interiors, Ward's editors also singled out four models for special recognition in four categories. Winner of the Best Brand Expression award is the Volvo C30; for Electronic Innovation it's the Infiniti EX35; Best Redesign goes to the Hyundai Sonata; and Clever Utility is awarded to the Dodge Journey. The vehicle awards are summarized in this table:

Award Category


Economy-Priced Car(-$16,999)

Suzuki SX4 Sport

Popular-Priced Car($17,000 - $29,999)

Chevrolet Malibu

Premium-Priced Car(+30,000)

Jaguar XF

Sports Car(+$30,000)

Audi TT

Popular-Priced Truck(-$34,999)


Premium-Priced Truck(+$35,000)

Chrysler Town & Country

Awards Highlight Importance of Interiors to Vehicle Sales:
With automotive interiors taking a leading role in brand differentiation and in winning over the hearts and minds of consumers, the Interior of the Year awards continues to grow in popularity and prestige among the automakers.

A J.D. Power & Associates study showed interior comfort is the second most important factor in choosing a vehicle, ranking ahead of exterior styling and just behind reliability and durability. Many automakers showcase their Interior of the Year awards in vehicle brochures and national advertising.

"In the years since we've been holding this competition, we've seen marked improvements in the overall design and quality of all automotive interiors, even in the economy segment," Winter says.

"It's no longer acceptable to have a cheap looking interior, even in economy-priced vehicles. This is great for consumers, but it makes our job a lot more challenging."

Changes this year included creation of a new category - Sports Cars over $30,000 - because of a bumper crop of these vehicles this model year. Likewise, CUVs were consolidated this year into the overall Truck category along with pickups, SUVs and minivans.


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Infibeam - Automobile Industry News