October 11, 2012

Consumers Likely to Pay Cost of Replacing Counterfeit Airbags, Dealers Say
Now that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has uncovered a counterfeit airbag ring that distributed potentially dangerous parts, some in the U.S. dealer community are worried that consumers will have to pay the replacement costs, reports Automotive News. Bruce Anderson, president of the Iowa Automobile Dealers Association, said people who unknowingly had counterfeit bags installed via an insurance claim should still be covered. For some, airbag replacement could end up being a "major expense," Anderson said. "When a car owner has an insurance claim, I think it's reasonable to expect that they'll get OEM replacement parts," Anderson said in an interview. Phil Maguire, co-owner of the Maguire Family of Dealerships in Ithaca and Trumansburg, N.Y., recommends consumers pull a history report on their vehicle to see whether it was in an accident. If so, they should try to get documentation from the place the vehicle was repaired to find out where the airbag came from. To see what dealers need to know about NHTSA’s safety advisory, read AIADA’s Dealer Alert here. For more on the costs of replacing counterfeit airbags, click here.

Electric Cars: Less Environmentally Friendly than They Seem
According to The Wall Street Journal, researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology embarked on a detailed assessment of the likely environmental impact of electric vehicles compared to conventional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. The scientists found that, judging by the likely global warming impact, switching to electric vehicles would be counterproductive in places where power is mainly produced from burning coal or heavy oil. Even when electricity is derived from relatively clean gas, the scientists write, “only limited benefits are achieved.” In addition to dirty sources of power, the environmental advantages of electric vehicles are dampened by the global warming impact of manufacturing them, which is about twice the comparable impact of conventional vehicles. Cleaner power and long-lasting electric vehicles are key, the study implies, lest the world just trade one set of problems for another. Absent a cleaner power mix, the scientists write, “a more significant reduction in GWP [global warming potential] could potentially be achieved by increasing fuel efficiency or shifting from gasoline to diesel” in regular vehicles. Click here for more on a new study’s findings on the environmental impact of EVs.

Marchionne: Crisis Grows for European Carmakers
Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne warned Wednesday that European automakers are fighting for their lives as demand for new vehicles continues to fall across the region. "With sales on a downward trend for the past five years running, most automobile manufacturers are losing money in Europe at the moment. And the outlook is far from rosy, as we now expect new-car registrations to decrease by between 8 to 10 percent compared to 2011," he told reporters ahead of a debate on the future of mobility in Brussels on Wednesday. "It is a question of survival for many manufacturers who are struggling to sustain the same level of capacity as in pre-crisis times." According to The Detroit News, Marchionne's comments came as the ratings agency Moody's cut Fiat SpA's debt rating and warned that its probability of default would likely increase as the crisis in the Eurozone continues. Standard and Poor’s said Wednesday that it will take six years for automobile sales in Western Europe to recover to their pre-crisis level. S&P projects that fewer than 12 million new vehicles will be sold in the region this year, down from nearly 15 million in 2007. Click here to read more about how the European debt crisis is hurting the auto market.

In California, High Gas Prices and Incentives for Fuel-Efficient Cars Go Hand in Hand
With a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline flirting with $5 through much of California, many people might expect a reprise of 2008, when the state joined much of the country in turning away from gas guzzlers and toward compact cars and hybrids. But according to some dealers around the Bay Area, though gas prices are pushing consumers toward the greener sections of their showrooms, a number of incentives are doing their part, too. According to The New York Times, his month, Nissan began an incentive program in California that provided dealers with $4,500 to use at their discretion to move the purely electric Leaf off their lots. Larry Judge, a sales manager at Concord Mitsubishi, said he noticed a spike in interest in the iMiEV over the last three weeks, which coincided with the run-up in gas prices. “We definitely have a lot more people researching and taking a look at it,” he said. Concord Mitsubishi lists a dealer discount of $1,046 on the i-MiEV, in addition to state and federal incentives. Read about California’s record high gas prices and incentives and how they are pushing customers to greener vehicle options by clicking here.

Study Reveals Top States for Online Used-Car Shoppers
Which states have the highest concentration of online used-car shoppers? According to a new consumer behavior study from Jumpstart Automotive Group designed to connect top auto shopping considerations with specific U.S. regions, the highest concentration of used-car shoppers was found in California, followed by Texas. Jumpstart officials explained the findings to Auto Remarketing. “The high volume in California follows the trends of where the largest concentration of auto shoppers are in total,” said Libby Murad-Patel, senior director of Jumpstart Strategic Insights. “California has almost 50 percent more shoppers than Texas, which is the second largest state concentration of Jumpstart total car shoppers, as well as used-car shoppers. “When you look at the used-car volume relative to each state’s total volume, the top states will look much different,” Murad-Patel added. “These two states also have the most price-conscious consumers among our audience, which is determined by shopping by pricing filters as a first consideration as opposed to body style or brand.” Rounding out the top five states in terms of highest volume of used-car shoppers in the U.S., behind California and Texas, are Minnesota, New York, and Florida. Click here for more on the states that lead in online used car shopping.

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Around the Web  
Nissan Prices New Pathfinder Below Key Rivals [USA Today]
Leno Drives James Bond's 1966 Toyota 2000GT Convertible [Autoblog]
Toyota Mississippi Builds 100,000th Corolla [MercuryNews.com]
7 Totally Outrageous Sports Cars [CNN Money]

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