November 15, 2012

Business Coalition Calls for Financially Sustainable Entitlements
The Daily Caller reports that a multi-industry business coalition, which included AIADA, sent a letter to Congress and the president Wednesday imploring them to take immediate action on entitlement reform. “If we are ever to get control of these large deficits and rising debt levels, we must get control of the principal cause of these deficits – federal spending,” the letter says. The letter notes mandatory spending — including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — accounted for over 50 percent of federal spending for 2012, or $2.05 trillion. “[A]ccording to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), mandatory spending is projected to increase in the next 10 years from just over $2 trillion to over $3.5 trillion. At that time, it will represent almost 65 percent of total spending,” the letter says. Click here to see it. An estimated 10,000 baby boomers are retiring daily starting in January of 2012, and will ultimately add 77 million people to the entitlement system. Labor unions and other progressive groups have launched campaigns during the lame duck session to urge Congress to not touch entitlement spending. Click here for more on yesterday’s letter sent from business groups to Capitol Hill on the need for financially sustainable entitlements.

NTSB Says Feds Should Require More Vehicle Safety Features
U.S. regulators should require all passenger and commercial vehicles sold in the country to use technology such as adaptive cruise control, automatic braking, and electronic stability control to reduce the number of deadly driving accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday in an annual list of its “most wanted” changes to government policy. According to Automotive News, the report, by the agency that investigates the causes of accidents such as vehicle and airplane crashes, also calls for the required use of sensors that warn drivers when they’re about to leave a lane or collide with a vehicle ahead of them. The agency points to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that say that outfitting all vehicles with collision warning sensors could prevent nearly 900 fatal passenger-car crashes annually. “With such promising potential to improve highway safety, this technology should be robustly deployed,” NTSB says in the report. Automakers see “great promise” in these new technologies, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said in a statement on the report. Still, automakers don’t want the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make those features mandatory because the features would add to vehicle sticker prices. Click here for more on the NTSB’s car safety “wish list.

And Plug-In Makes Four: Prius’s Expanding Family
The Toyota Prius may not be a sex magnet, but it provokes strong reactions often bordering on love or hate. The New York Times reports that there is now an entire line of Priuses designed to be less polarizing and more attuned to the needs of middle-of-the-road Americans. In other words, as it has gone mainstream, the Prius has been Camryfied. Since last summer, the familiar compact liftback version has been joined by the Prius V wagon, the Prius C subcompact, and now the Prius Plug-in Hybrid. It is not so easy to spot the new Priuses from blocks away – useful for avoidance maneuvers that can keep you from getting stuck behind the cars’ famously slow drivers. The characteristic swoop of the aerodynamic roofline is subdued on the Prius V and nearly absent on the Prius C. What hasn’t disappeared is the hybrid powertrain technology that continues to be the core of every Prius. With the addition of the Plug-in Hybrid to the Prius lineup, Toyota can now also appeal to its die-hard green customers who want to drive on grid-supplied energy. Read more of The New York Times’ coverage of Toyota’s expanding Prius lineup here.

Deck the Car with Yuletide Spirit
'Tis the season for wreaths, bows, trees, and garland. And, increasingly, on our cars as well as in our homes. Over the last few years, Melissa Preddy at The Detroit News says she’s spotted all sorts of holiday trimmings on motor vehicles, from modest ribbons to a light-up plastic nativity scene in a pickup truck bed. And merchants from drugstores to Amazon.com are responding with a healthy selection of Christmas car decor. Mystic Industries, an importer in Wakefield, Mass., is one of the largest wholesale suppliers of car costumes to national retailers, and it sells a couple of dozen sets through its online site, CarGetUps.com. According to Andy Marcus, a third-generation member of the family business his grandfather began in the 1920s, “no matter what we put out there, the reindeer is always No. 1.” Other festive frou-frous on the market include magnets; one set of 12 designs, including Santa, candy canes and wreaths, sells for about $35 on Amazon.com. Other sites sell window clings, bows, Santa-face antenna toppers, "Merry Christmas" bumper stickers, and more. Read more about the growing availability of festive trimmings for today’s vehicles by clicking here.

How Cars Will Change If America Becomes the New Saudi Arabia
Extraordinary growth in oil and natural gas output in the United States means we’re well on our way to becoming the next Saudi Arabia, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Citing the boom in shale oil and fracking, the IEA’s 2012 World Energy Outlook says the U.S. will overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. We’ll be a net exporter of natural gas by then, too. According to Forbes, if the projection is correct, it would mean a sea change in terms of the world’s energy supplies and geopolitics. Closer to home, it could also affect Washington‘s aggressive march toward tougher fuel economy standards. There’s a review period written into the law for 2017, at which time government officials and automakers are supposed to review the regulatory path toward 54.5 mpg. By then, the energy landscape could look dramatically different. The political landscape most certainly will, since President Obama will be out of office and a new president will be calling the shots. Will that next president be as “green” as the current one? For speculation on these and other questions related to the development of America’s oil supply, click here.

Around the Web 
10 Greatest Car Races of All Time [Jalopnik]
Suzuki Samurai Lives On with New Jimny Facelift [Autoblog]
Luxury Automakers Wine and Dine Prospective Buyers [USA Today]
The Driverless Revolution Rolls On [CNN Money]

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