October 15, 2012

CAFE Guide: A Map Through the MPG Maze
New fuel efficiency standards, finalized in August after a year of discussion, have a simple-sounding goal: cut fuel consumption and emissions. But the rules – at 1,994 pages and more than half a million words – are anything but straight- forward, reports Automotive News. Each automaker's vehicle fleet ultimately will have to average at least 54.5 mpg – unless gasoline prices drastically change, new technologies emerge, consumers behave differently, or any other assumptions that the government made while drafting the rules turn out to be way off. On top of that, the 54.5 mpg figure is based on strict federal testing criteria. And, five years from now, the government could decide that the standards are too difficult or costly and change the game again. There is a lot of expense involved – about $150 billion for the industry, according to the Obama administration. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says the average light vehicle will cost $2,556 extra by 2025, not adjusted for inflation, though it believes the new rules would end up saving consumers as much as $5,000 over a vehicle's lifetime by using less fuel. For more on confusing new fuel efficiency standards, click here.

Obama Trumpets Rebound of U.S. Auto Industry
President Barack Obama heralded the turnaround of the U.S. auto industry in his weekly radio address – ahead of the second debate showdown Tuesday with Republican rival Mitt Romney. Obama touted his decision to rescue General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC as part of the $85 billion bailout – and he praised some new models hitting the showrooms. "Just a few years ago, the auto industry wasn't just struggling — it was flatlining. GM and Chrysler were on the verge of collapse. Suppliers and distributors were at risk of going under. More than a million jobs across the country were on the line — and not just auto jobs, but the jobs of teachers, small business owners, and everyone in communities that depend on this great American industry," Obama said. According to The Detroit News, Obama did not mention that GM and Chrysler did in fact file for bankruptcy in the summer of 2009 – and the administration pushed the two into court restructuring as part of the bailout. Click here to read more about how President Obama incorporated the U.S. auto industry into his weekend radio address.

2013 Motor Trend SUV of the Year: Mercedes-Benz GL
SUVs have changed. For the first time ever, Motor Trend says it didn't have a single body-on-frame example in its annual SUV of the Year competition. For its 2013 competition, the overwhelming majority of the competitors were car-based. However, there was one vehicle that wasn't, and in the words of Frank Markus, "did more of what we expect an SUV to do." That vehicle is the 2013 Mercedes-Benz GL. The flavor didn't matter. From the fuel-sipping, diesel-powered GL350 to the "how can this be the weaker of the two V-8s?" GL450 to the "3-ton objects should not move this quickly" 429-hp GL550, Mercedes has built an SUV that's better than the rest. Not just in its competitive class: The new, second-generation GL is the best new SUV on the market period, and the winner of Motor Trend’s prize. As for interior dislikes, there weren't many. The whole team agreed that COMAND, Mercedes-Benz's version of iDrive, is in serious need of a major rethink. That said, the 360-degree camera parking system (very similar to Infiniti's Around View) drew nothing but praise as the best the industry currently offers. Read more of Motor Trend’s report on its 2013 SUV of the Year here.

Tata will Redo Nano for the U.S.
According to Automotive News, a redesigned version of India's no-frills Nano minicar will come to the United States in three years, said Ratan Tata, the billionaire boss of that country's giant Tata Group. "The U.S. is a very enticing market," Tata said in an interview. "We are redesigning the Nano for both Europe and the U.S." He said the new Nano will be far more sophisticated than the ultracheap model that has flopped in India despite a world of hype. It will get a bigger engine and "more bells and whistles," including such features as power steering and traction control. Tata said it will be priced below $10,000. What the 74-year-old industrialist did not say is how he intends to sell it here. Tata has no U.S. retail network. The existing Nano, an egg-shaped four-seater, was developed for India as an alternative to scooters. At 122 inches long, it is nearly two feet shorter than a Mini, and it has a two-cylinder, rear-mounted engine with 37 hp. Tata, whose company owns Jaguar and Land Rover, conceived the Nano as the world's cheapest car. It went on sale in 2009 with a price tag of about $2,500. Click here for more on Tata’s U.S. plans.

Family Car Showdown: These Cars Will Change the Way You Think About Sedans
The stalwart family sedan is maligned almost as much as the poor minivan. But like that versatile people mover, it’s incredibly practical. Four doors, ample room for five, and a good-sized trunk. Plus, it’s affordable and gets better gas mileage than a minivan or SUV. No wonder 27 percent of vehicles sold during the first half of 2012 were mid-sized sedans, according to Experian Automotive. In fact, mid-sized cars account for five of the 10 best-selling vehicles in the U.S., and sales in the segment are up 25 percent, growing faster than the overall industry. This fall, according to Forbes, there’s an all-out family car feud going on in dealer showrooms, with newly redesigned mid-sized entries from just about every major player. What’s nice is there’s not a plain-vanilla one in the bunch. All feature more expressive styling, better fuel economy, lots of premium features, and oodles of advanced technology, for around $25,000 to $30,000. The average American is driving an 11-year-old car, so their shopping list is probably different from the last time they shopped for a sedan, thanks to new competitors that have elbowed their way into consideration. For more on this year’s family sedans, click here.

Nominate a Dealer for AIADA’s Lifetime Achievement Award
Every year, during our Annual Meeting and Luncheon, AIADA honors a highly respected member of the international nameplate auto industry with our David F. Mungenast Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was created to honor the legacy of Dave Mungenast and recognize some of the truly outstanding leaders in our industry who possess an unparalleled work ethic and a commitment to their families and communities. Recognizing members of our industry who reflect the values and commitment that Dave exemplified is the best way we have to honor his memory. If you know someone in the international auto industry like Dave, AIADA wants to know! Please take the time to read more about the award and nominate a distinguished member of our industry by clicking here. The 2013 recipient of the David F. Mungenast Lifetime Achievement Award will be honored at AIADA’s 43rd Annual Meeting and Luncheon on February 11, 2013 in Orlando, Florida. If you’re not already registered, click here to do so.

Around the Web 
6 Ways to Ruin Your Ride [Motoramic]
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Reviewing the Acura RDX [Wheels]
Think Your SUV is Hard to Park? Try a Space Shuttle [Driver's Seat]

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