Thursday, July 30, 2009

Government To Suspend Cash For Clunkers

This is hot off the news....the government plans to suspend temporarily the Cash For Clunkers Program. The program offers $3500 to $4500 for trading in an older vehicle for a new more fuel efficient vehicle. The plan does require that only certain vehicles qualify for the program.

Apparently, it is so popular that they are concerned about exceeding the $1 billion dollars earmarked for the project. The plan would have applied to approximately 250,000 vehicles.
Thru Wednesday 22,782 vehicles had been purchased thru the program.....with an estimated 25,000 deals had not yet been approved by the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency.

Members of congress from the auto producing states have approached the congressional leaders about extending the program. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Michigan indicated that "This is simple the most stimulative $1 billion the federal government has spend during the entire economic downturn".


As I outlined in my previous post this could be a great program for the auto manufacturers, dealers and the consumers that were able to take advantage of the program. Last month, over 850,000 cars were sold for the month. This program would apply to about ten percent of the sales over the three months of the program.

So, the government was serious about stimulating auto sales they would substantially increase the program. The small amount of one billion dollars is going to increase sales temporarily but will have no impact in the long term.

Update: The House of Representatives have approved an additional $2 billion in funding on July 31st to continue program. But, the Senate is holding back approval. The continuation of the program depends on that vote.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2011 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet Volt is a game changer from General Motors (GM), in fact this could be one of the vehicles to save the venerable brand. The Volt is a plug in hybrid to be produced by GM, unlike current available hybrids like the Toyota Prius, the propulsion of the Volt is accomplished by the electric motors, it has a regular gas engine which recharges the batteries, but the gas engine does not power the wheels.

It's lithium-ion batteries have a range up to 40 miles (64 km), which exceeds the daily commute of 75% of Americans, which is an average of 33 miles (53 km). A small 4 cylinder gasoline engine drives a generator to provide a longer range. This effectively extends the Volt's potential range to as much as 640 miles (1,030 km) on a single tank of fuel, but the range could be extended indefinitely by refueling the vehicle. The Volt's lithium-ion battery pack can also be fully charged by plugging the car into a 120-240VAC residential electrical outlet.

Since the current Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) definition of a hybrid vehicle states the vehicle shall have "two or more energy storage systems both of which must provide propulsion power, either together or independently", the company has avoided the use of the term "hybrid" when describing its non-conforming Voltec designs. Instead GM has described the Volt as an electric vehicle equipped with a "range extending" gasoline powered internal combustion engine. However, the combination of an internal combustion engine and electric motors in such a configuration is most often referred to as a series hybrid.

An optional feature will be a a thermovoltaic solar power roof, allowing the owner to charge the battery by leaving the vehicle in sunlight. GM has decided on a new descriptive terminology to distinguish it from traditional hybrids. They are calling the Volt an E-REV, for extended-range electric vehicle, although it still qualifies as a hybrid.

The estimated production plans are 10,000 first year with a ramp up to 60,000 units in the second year. Production in the U.S will be done at GM's Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly. GM is considering building all of the Volts for the European market, branded Chevrolet, Opel and Vauxhall, at their Vauxhall plant in Ellesmere Port in the United Kingdom. GM indicated that the Volt would be available for sale in Europe in 2011, then available in Australia by 2012.

General Motors was reportedly in disagreement with the United States Environmental Protection Agency regarding how the Volt should be tested to determine its official fuel economy rating. The EPA reportedly wants to alter the method of testing currently used for all other hybrid vehicles. If tested with the same EPA tests used by other hybrids, the Volt's ability to use the energy stored in the batteries would result in it achieving a fuel economy rating of over 100 mpg, which would make the Volt the first mass-produced automobile to achieve such a rating. Currently, the 2010 Toyota Prius has a combined city/highway rating of 50 mpg.

Pricing for the Volt in the U.S. is estimated at $40K plus, with a government tax incentive rebate of $7500 bringing the price to around $32.5K. Pricing in the U.K. market would be estimated at GBP£20K, less a government tax incentive rebate.


My take on this vehicle is that the Chevrolet Volt will be a game changer in a number of different ways. First, it will help to get GM sales and image back on track after the government sponsored bankruptcy, second it is a mass market vehicle that can change the hybrid landscape, which Toyota dominates presently. Third it will be a major milestone on the way to American energy independence!

Shown below is the original Volt concept vehicle!

Information via Wikipedia!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2010 Chevrolet Equinox

Today's post is on the new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox, which is a front wheel drive or all wheel drive five passenger crossover. I am not necessarily an SUV or crossover fan...but I do need to bring up that the crossover segment is going thru some major changes.

Crossovers are continuing to evolve and develop....the new Equinox is a prime example. The 2010 Equinox is a much better vehicle than the model it replaces. It shows GM's resolve to finally get back to building good cars.

The feature to the Equinox that I thought was interesting was the application of GM's Active Noise Cancellation technology. Basically, the there are microphones to monitor the noise level and the speakers generates the opposite sounds to cancel low frequency noises.

This technology has been in development for a number of years....automobile manufacturers are now beginning to deploy the technology. The benefits are that the 2010 Equinox is exceptionally quiet with noise and vibration to a minimum. There was an additional benefit to the deployment of the technology is that the engineers were able to drop the idle speed and gain an additional .1 mpg.

The standard 2.4 liter Ecotec direct injection motor is rated at 182 h.p. with a 0-60 time of 9.6 seconds. An optional 3.0 liter direct injection motor is available with 264 hp and a 0-60 time of 7.8 seconds. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic. This is not a sports car but GM is working on meeting the new higher CAFE fuel economy regulations.

Fuel economy for the 2.4 liter is an exceptional 21/30 city/highway, meanwhile the 3.0 liter is rated at 18/25 city/highway. All wheel drive is available which should reduce the mileage by 1-2 mpg.

Note that Chevrolet has continued with the two tone interior which is similar to the Chevrolet Malibu. Personally, I find the new interior on the Equinox to be exceptional in the class. The main competitors are the Ford Escape, Jeep Liberty, Honda CR-V, Hyundai Santa Fe, and the Toyota RAV4. This is a substantial change from the prior model.


The new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is another example that GM has decided to build good products. It has exceptional fuel economy without the necessity of a hybrid or diesel technology. It is an attractive crossover that is extremely competitive in it's class. These are the kind of cars that will bring GM back from the brink!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ford Sales Increase Due To Bankruptcies

Here is an interesting article on the American is interesting to see people's perceptions. Based on a survey released today from Rasmussen Reports....46% of Americans are more likely to by a Ford than vehicles from GM or Chrysler. The reason is that Ford did not take bailout money from the government. Apparently, there is a lot of resentment against the bailout.

The latest sales report for June substantiates the
survey. Ford sales were down only 11% and GM sales were down 33% and Chrysler down 42% respectively. GM was in the midst of the bankruptcy during June so that may have had an impact on the survey. Chrysler had already come out of the bankruptcy.

One issue not addressed in the survey is that Ford quality has been continually improving over the last few years. In addition, they have brought out some very competitive cars like the Fusion Hybrid, Taurus and the Mustang. So, both quality and competitive cars could be part of the increase sales.

Personally, I was incensed the way that
Chrysler closed 789 dealers giving them a minimum of notice...whereas GM gave their dealers that they were closing over a year to wind down the business. Closing that many dealers in the month of June may have impacted Chrysler sales in that we will see how this trend continues.

In fact, there were a number of people and organizations that were burned by the bankruptcies. The worst were people that had been severely hurt by vehicle malfunctions that now do not have much recourse since GM and Chrysler have gone into bankruptcy. I will be doing a future post on the damages inflicted due to the bankruptcies.

Another interesting fact is that 41% of Americ
ans expect the quality of GM cars to get worse now that the government is the majority owner.


I don't necessarily agree with all the perceptions that have been outlined by the Rasmussen survey. I did not like the fact that G
M and Chrysler had to be bailed out...but I viewed it as the only scenario that would work to save a number of jobs and deepening an extremely severe recession.

I hope that the government will stay out of GM and Chrysler management. In two or three years, the economy will be rebounding and auto sales will be increasing materially. I suspect that the GM will prepare a stock offering and the government will be out within a couple of years after that.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

2010 Porsche Panamerica

Today's post is on a very interesting new car the Porsche Panamera. Take a look at the picture above.....note the four doors. Yes, this is the first four door Porsche.....this appears to be a new trend with serious four door sports sedans.

It is interesting since this is a 2+2 rear drive hatchback....something I never thought would be manufactured by Porsche. Apparently, there is some room on the interior....this is quite a change for a Porsche. The cargo capacity is 15.6 cubic feet.....and 44 cubic feet if the rear seat is folded down.

The Panamera engines are a 300-hp V6 to the 500-hp turbocharged V-8. Apparently, a hybrid powertrain is also in development. The Turbo speed is 0-60 mph in four seconds....which is exceptional for any sedan. The transmissions are a six speed manual or the seven speed PDK automated manual is available.
An interesting feature with all PDK transmission equipped Panamera is the new Auto Start - Stop function that automatically turns the car of if at a stop, as long as the divers foot is on the brake.
The Panamera will have a the option of the 13 different color and material options for the interior, including four two tone combinations. A high end Burmester audio system will be available with 17 speakers and 1000 watts of power.

Pricing for the Porsche Panamera will be $89,000 USD, a Panamera 4S, which is 4 wheel drive, will run $93,800 USD and the Turbo runs $132,600 USD plus options. The Pamamera maybe subject to gas guzzler taxes.
I like the new is an attractive sports sedan with the speed credentials to match. It is pricey especially with the turbo model.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Fisker Karma

Development of electric and electric/gasoline powered cars is increasing rapidly. Nearly all the manufacturers are planning production of a number of models. Fisker Automotive, Inc. is a manufacturer that will bring out a plus-in hybrid the Fisker Karma as their first model.

These technologies are gaining popularity since battery manufacturers have been in race to improve the battery life. Improving t
he battery life extends the driving range of the vehicle.

has signed a deal with Advanced Lithium Power (ALP) to provide batteries for the Fisker deal that was just announced. The battery life question has been overcome, since the Tesla Roadster won the Monte Carlo Rally For Alternative Energy Vehicles.

FiskerAutomotive is a joint venture between Quantum Technologies (U.S. based manufacturer and Fisker Coachbuild LLC (a Finland auto assembler).

The Karma is anticipated to have a 50 mile (80km) all-electric range, then a gasoline engine powers the electric motors up to 250 additional miles. The gasoline engine is a 2.0 liter turbocharged, direct injected motor manufactured by GM.

The Karma is powered by Q-drive technology, which is a series hybrid where the engine is mated with a generator to provide an electrical connection to the electric motors. Electric motors are what propel the vehicle, the engine recharges the batteries.The Karma has a feature that one day may become standard on electric cars. It has a factory option of a solar power roof that can assist recharging the lithium batteries and the climate control system.Also, Fisker will offer a set of solar panels for the garage/house which may charge the Karma entirely off the grid. Fisker automotive has not released information on the Karma fuel economy.

Pricing has been announced....the bas
e version will cost $87,900 USD plus options, meanwhile an upgraded version EcoSport will be $95,000 and the top of the line EcoChic will cost $104,000.


This is one beautiful green machine! The first production units will arrive this fall.

The big news is how a relatively small company can develop a state of the art automobile from scratch with $100 million in start up capital! GM was unable to do the same thing with the EV1 for over $1 billion dollars.

Basically, they have contracted with existing automobile parts manufacturers for the parts necessary to build the car.....substantially cutting their cash requirements for designing parts, buying manufacturing equipment and building plants etc.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Buick & Jaguar Detrone Lexus on Dependability

Perceptions is one of the most difficult behaviors to change in people. Today, I am speaking about perceptions of automobile quality. Many people here in the United States think that American brands are inferior in dependability versus the Japanese brands. That was generally a true statement backin the 1980's and the 1990's.

This post is about the J.D. Powers vehicle dependability study which rates automobile reliability after three years of ownership. Generally, this study determines the long term reliability of vehicles by make and brand.

Lexus has dominated the J.D. Powers vehicle dependability study since 1986. So this is shocking news that Jaguar and Buick have tied for the top spot and surpassed Lexus on the quality front. J. D. Powers dependability study surveyed owners of 2006 model year vehicles. Jaguar moved up from tenth place, meanwhile Buick moved up from sixth position from last year. Owners opinions of a cars reliability after three years can be an impact on their opinion to repurchase that auto brand again.

Auto makers watch the J. D. Powers reports closely since a positive report can increase or decrease sales. Shown below is the Jaguar XF, which is a new model for 2009 replacing the S-type.Cars have improved materially since 1986 and Lexus and Toyota have set the pace. In the J. D. Power report Lexus was in third place followed by Toyota. Mercury, Infinity and Acura take the fifth, sixth and seventh places in the survey. The worst performing brand was Suzuki, which is a Japanese brand.

The Buick LaCrosse, which was the highest ranked mid-size car, has basically been a sleeper in the automotive scene. It is a conservatively styled and designed car. It competes well against the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord. Buick has been chosen as the GM division to compete against Lexus. Accordingly, the Buick LaCrosse will be totally redone for 2010 and looks quite impressive. Please see the June 3rd post on the 2010 LaCrosse.

This report basically shows that a number of brands are now competing with the Japanese on the long term quality of their vehicles. Ford has been on the upswing for the last couple of years...note the placement of the Mercury division. Credit does belong to Ford implementing the quality programs at Jaguar that developed this acclaim.

General Motors is increasing their quality at the same time.....the Buick division has been increasing reliability for the last five years. Many people have the perception that the American and British brands are inferior to the Japanese in quality. That may have been the case ten years ago but times are changing!

This story is based on an article written by Dan Strump the Associated Press news story.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

2009 Chevrolet Malibu

This is an interesting story about the 2009 Chevrolet Malibu, which is the seventh generation of the venerable name. The fifth and sixth generation of the The Malibu were really unimpressive vehicles.....basically reduced to rental fleets. The Malibu was redesigned for the 2008 model the direction of then GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz.

Lutz was determined to manufacture an American automobile that was competitive with the Japanese mid size cars Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Under his direction, GM finally decided that to be competitive the Malibu needed extensive engineering and re-design.

The Malibu is built on a revised version of the long-wheelbase front-wheel drive platform shared with the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6, Opel Signum. The only available transmission is a six-speed automatic. It is built at the Kansas City Plant, along with the Saturn Aura.

The interior design has been completely redone.....the selection of the two-tone color combination is very attractive. Higher quality interior pieces also accompany the redesign which has also been completely reworked, with a selection of two-tone color combinations(brick and tan two tone), telescoping steering wheel, higher-quality materials and a twin-cowl dash design.

The Malibu offers a 2.4 liter 169 hp. VVT in line 4-cylinder as the base engine. and a 252 hp, and a 3.6 liter V6 as an option. A hybrid option is available, which increased fuel economy of 26 mpg city/34 mpg highway.
The Malibu has received critical praise from the automotive press, with MotorTrend magazine rating the Malibu higher than the Honda Accord and Nissan Altima in the magazine's 2008 Car of The Year competition.
The 2008 Malibu received the North American Car of the Year Award at the North American International Auto show in Detroit. The runners up being the 2008 Cadillac CTS and the 2008 Honda Accord. The Malibu's win marks the second straight year that a car built on GM's Epsilon platform has won the North American COTY Award with the 2007 North American COTY Award having gone to the 2007 Saturn Aura. The Malibu was also named a Consumer Digest best buy for 2009.

Sales results have been positive with the Malibu joining the Cadillac CTS and Buick Enclave on a list of GM vehicles whose sales have exceeded expectations. The redesigned Malibu sold more than 50% more units in 2008 last year than in 2007, increasing GM's mid-size market share to 8.4% from 5.7%, while the Camry and Accord percentages remained flat at about 21% and 17.5%, according to GM. Sales to rental customers dropped to 27% of the total, as GM limited sales to rental fleets.

Pricing starts for the LS version at $22,325 USD plus options, the hybrid version is priced at $25,555 USD plus options.
The latest generation of the Malibu is a winner! The Malibu looks good, drives well, handles well and braking is good. The Malibu is another example of the kind of cars that GM is capable of building.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

2010 Ford Taurus

Everyone reading my blog is familiar with the problems of the auto industry, specifically the American manufacturers. Ford is the only American company not going to the government well for a hand out! Mainly due to the foresight of Alan Mullaly, CEO of Ford, who arranged for lines of credit in 2007 when the capital markets were much better. In addition, Ford quality has improved substantially where they are on a par with the Japanese manufacturers.

Back in 1986 Ford set Ford's sales charts on fire with the new Taurus with a spacey stylish design. I was not a fan of the car in that I thought the styling was unusual and not to my preference. The drive was OK but unexceptional. Over the years the Taurus was downgraded to a rental car status.

Ford purchased Volvo in 1998 and one of the benefits was the Ford 500 which came out in 2005. The Ford 500 was underpowered and connected to a CVT transmission and did not sell well. The Ford 500 was based on the Volvo S80 platform and is one of the safest cars on the road. In 2008, the name was changed to the Ford Taurus and upgraded the powertrains.
I drove a rental 2008 Ford Taurus last summer when I was in New York city. My associate commented that he thought this was the one of the best American cars. It drove smoothly, handled well for a sedan and braked well!

The 2010 Ford Taurus is prime example of the quality car that American manufacturers are capable of producing. It has the 3.5-liter V-6 which makes 264 hp, which is connected to a six-speed automatic.. The Limited model comes with a different six-speed transmission along with paddle shifters.

They are resurrecting the SHO (Super High Output) model which is shown below. The SHO will have a twin-turbo, high output, twin-turbocharged 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6 with an estimated 350 hp. That is a lot of power for a sedan!

Pricing for the Taurus SE starts at $25,170 USD plus options, while the SHO starts at $$37,170.

Monday, July 6, 2009

New GM To Emerge

Today is a milestone of American history......General Motors (GM) is about to exit bankruptcy. This is one of the largest and the fastest bankruptcy in American history! The bankruptcy judge Robert Gerber has ruled that GM will be allowed to sell the bulk of the good assets to the new GM. This is the final procedure that will allow the automaker to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

The old GM will be renamed Motors Liquidation Co....and those assets not transferred to the new GM will remain and be liquidated. This process may take up to 2-3 years to finalize. The GM stock is still traded in the over the counter market....but is virtually worthless.

The speed of the bankruptcy was initiated due to the Obama administration requirement otherwise the government would refuse to provide GM with additional funds unless it was out of bankruptcy court by July 10th.

"As nobody can seriously dispute, the only alternative to an immediate sale is liquidation — a disastrous result for GM's creditors, its employees, the suppliers who depend on GM for their own existence, and the communities in which GM operates," a comment out of the Gerber ruling.

There will be a number of appeals....some are by people that are suing GM citing liable in several auto accident cases. Other are GM's bondholders, unions and consumer groups indicating that their needs were disregarded in bankruptcy. A group of the Chrysler bondholders took their objections to the Supreme Court last month, which delayed Chrysler's exit from bankruptcy....but the court failed to hear their case.

The bankruptcy will allow GM to significantly reduce their debt....along with a renegotiated United Auto Workers(UAW) contract. GM will shed its non-profitable divisions Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer, Saab and Opel.

The new GM has an image problem.... baggage from the old GM....they are perceived as a auto company that is out of touch with the needs to the American public. GM grew fat and bloated and thought that whatever they built would be bought by the public.

Unfortunately, the public has some incredible the new GM will have to bring some dynamic vehicles to market. Then it will take a few years to change the public perceptions. Some of the cars that GM was building lately are actually very good cars....unfortunately most people have the old perception that GM cars stink!

The Chevy Cruze is an excellent choice as a compact car but GM will have serious competition from the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and the Ford Fiesta. The challenge that GM will have is regaining the trust of Americans that have purchased foreign brands and are content with their choices.

When the bankruptcy is completed, GM will receive about $50 billion tax dollars. The government will own 61% of GM. The Obama administration has indicated that they will be hands off owner....but they have already selected AT&T Inc. CEO Ed Whitacre to chair the board. Whiteacre rebuilt AT&T after they were substantially down in market share and profits after the government sponsored breakup of AT&T.


GM will be a better company after this reorganization! I had predicted that this would be the solution back in my February 16th post...Time GM To Pay The Piper. GM will not have the substantial debt to service, the UAW has made substantial concessions to reduce the man hour cost. They have eliminated much of the dead weight that had accumulated over the years.

In the past, I had been very critical of the GM board. They should have replaced the CEO and President Rick Wagner since GM continued with substantial losses and declines in market share. As a shareholder, I would have been extremely upset.

Since, Ed Whitacre will be chairman of the board, expect positive things to happen. He knows how to run a large business and make it successful. The new GM will be a much better company....with products and service to match.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

2011 Mercedes E250 BlueTec

As I have mentioned in my previous posts......German auto manufacturers are planning to flood the U.S. with diesels and diesel/hybrid vehicles. The other side of the equation is whether U.S. buyers will buy these green vehicles. Many manufacturers have doubts that buyers will flood new car dealer showrooms to purchase green vehicles. The main factor that will improve sales of diesels or green vehicles is the price of fuel.

Mercedes is bringing out the new 2010 E-class to the U.S. with the 3.5 liter V-6 and the 5.5 liter V-8. It is testing the waters in the U.S. to see if buyers are ready for a 2.5 liter 4-cylinder turbo-diesel version of the its popular E-class. The E-class was selected for the 2.5 liter since Mercedes wanted to meet the new CAFE standards in the U.S. without downsizing vehicles.

At the 2009 New York Auto Show , Mercedes introduced the E250 BlueTEC, a diesel concept designed specifically for North America. This model is powered by a 2.2-liter 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel which produces 204 hp. when compared to the E320 BlueTec V-6’s 211 hp and 398 lb-ft figures.hp and 369 lbs.-ft. of torque.

The 2.5 liter motor is currently available in Europe and around the world. The diesel motor features some high tech features as high-pressure common-rail direct injection and twin Lanchester balance shafts for smooth operation. The only transmission is a 7-speed automatic.

The emissions system has been changed to meet stringent U.S. emission laws, the E250 BlueTEC uses a particulate trap, two catalytic converters plus an AdBlue urea injection system to reduce NOX emissions.

The car is equipped with a 25 liter tank for urea(component of urine), which is scheduled to be replenished at about 15,000 miles. If the tank is not replenished after a short period after the urea is empty.....then the vehicle will not start.

The mileage for the E250 BlueTec is actually quite impressive at 28/39 mpg city/highway versus 18/26 mpg for the 3.5 liter motor which is standard in the E-series.

Mercedes line of diesels (Bluetec) will qualify for the federal alternative powertrain tax credit. This credit was only for hybrid vehicles, but it has been changed to allow diesel vehicles. A decision has been made that the diesels meet the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit standards of the IRS. The credits vary based on the vehicle.

Pricing has not been announced for this vehicle!


The Mercedes E250 BlueTec should be a great green machine. This should allow someone to drive a green luxury car with great mileage...without sacrificing driving dynamics. Based upon the horsepower....the E250d will be slightly slower than the E350d which has a respectable 0-60 times. They have not announced the speed and braking information.

If fuel goes over $4.00 per USG these vehicles will sell like hot cakes!

Friday, July 3, 2009

June U.S. Auto Sales

U.S. auto sales appear to be improving slightly! They are down from the last year but are only down 28% vs down 39% for the month of May. decline. It appears that the U.S. based automakers are having a rebound in sales with the exception of Chrysler. Sales were the best they have been since the summer of 2008....with a annual run rate of approximately 10 million cars.

Ford and GM sold more cars in June and cut the downward spiral sales for the month. During April, Ford and GM sales were down 11.2% and 33% respectively. An interesting fact is that GM is currently in bankruptcy and the bankruptcy has not impacted sales badly. Meanwhile, Chrysler who just came out of bankruptcy was down 42%.
  • Chrysler down 42%
  • Mazda down 42%
  • Mitsubishi down 42%
  • General Motors down 33%
  • Toyota down 32%
  • Honda down 30%
  • Mercedes down 23%
  • Nissan down 23%
  • Volkswagen down 23%
  • BMW down 20%
  • Hyundai down 20%
  • Ford down 11%
  • Kia down 5%
  • Volvo up 1%
  • Subaru up 3%
Ford seems to be the beneficiary of increased sales lately. It appears that new products were the reason behind the sales increase over May. The Ford Fusion, Ford Flex and the company's hybrids set sales records.

Ford's Fusion set a record of 18,561 cars breaking into the top three mid-size sedan market for the second month since July 2002. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan have the best predicted reliability among all mid-size sedans. The Japanese brands have dominated the mid-size segment with the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord.

June sales were up at a fairly decent run rate of 10 million cars annually. So, it appears that consumers had more faith in the future to spend money on high ticket items.

An interesting anomaly is that sales of Japanese brands continue with the downward spiral meanwhile U.S. manufacturers seem to be improving. We will have to monitor to see if that is a trend that will continue!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dodge Circuit EV

Many of my previous posts have covered new electric cars and appears that the electric revolution has started. There are two trends that are influencing electric car development, the first is the price of fuel, which is anticipated to increase substantially, the second is global warming.

Since, automobiles contribute substantially to global warming the smart idea to to eliminate the by products of the internal combustion engine. So, an electric car substantially reduces both major's post covers a new electric car by Chrysler the Dodge Circuit.

Chrysler has lagged behind in the development of green vehicles but Chrysler executives said the day is coming when the whole Chrysler fleet has electric powertrains. "The goal is to achieve fundamental technology, get economies of scale, improve our ability to make the future generations more robust, less cost, smaller, more powerful, better performance," according to Bill Press V.P & President. "Ultimately it will lead to a transformation of our entire fleet that will be in some manner electric drive."

The Dodge Circuit EV sports car, is a two-passenger, rear wheel drive, all electric sports car that combines a lithium-ion battery pack with a 200-kilowatt motor, capable of generating 268 horsepower. The 0-60 mph. time is less than 5 seconds and with a top speed of approximately 120 mph (190 km/h). This car is built by cooperation with Lotus Motors and is almost identical to the Tesla Roadster.

The Circuit is based on the European Lotus Europa includes a 268 horsepower electric motor as well as an advanced lithium-ion battery. Chrysler indicates that the Circuit has a range of 150 to 200 miles, which is similar to the Tesla Roadster.

Pricing has not been announced but the base price of a European spec Lotus Europa S is £33,000 $54,120 USD. That price does not include the changes to electrify the vehicle....the similar Tesla Roadster starts at $109,000 UDS.


Tesla started this new paradigm of using another manufacturers vehicle shell then adding the electric systems. This is substantially cheaper way to manufacture a car without starting from the ground up. It is another salvo in the beginning of the electric revolution