November 30, 2012
Honda's Revamped Civic 'Looks Like a New Car’
Honda Motor Co. debuted a vastly redesigned 2013 Civic compact at the Los Angeles Auto Show on Thursday, a revamp the company hopes will win back disappointed customers after a botched 2012 next-generation launch. Click here to see it. "People say something went wrong, but it's still the best-selling car in America, so we feel like it was good," said Art St. Cyr, vice president of product planning and motor sports for American Honda Motor Co. "This one is even better." According to The Detroit News, the new Civic has a better interior and smoother exterior styling that includes an open-mouth lower bumper with a horizontal chrome accent and a sportier, black honeycomb mesh grille. The car looks lower and longer, and St. Cyr promises it handles better. Complaints about excess cabin noise also have been addressed, he said. The redesign just 18 months after its latest refresh is highly unusual, but St. Cyr said it is an example of how Honda can and will respond. The changes also arrive in time for Civic's 40th anniversary in the United States next year. Click here to read more about Honda’s newly redesigned Civic, unveiled yesterday at the LA Auto Show.
Auto Industry Worries About More Inflated MPG Claims
Hyundai Motor Co.'s admission that it overstated fuel economy claims on several of its top-selling cars has the industry worried. Automotive News reports that speculation is rife among executives and analysts at the Los Angeles Auto Show that more automakers may have to do the same. Hyundai and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. conceded earlier this month that they misstated the fuel economy by at least a mile per gallon on more than 1 million recently sold vehicles. "I think we might see more of this," said Jake Fisher, the head of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. "There are other vehicles that don't really stack up to the EPA estimates." Automakers, too, noted the pressure. "I think every manufacturer did what we did and went back and said: 'Are these real numbers?'" said Al Castignetti, vice president of Nissan Motor Co.'s Nissan brand in the United States. Castignetti and auto executives at General Motors, Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co., Mazda Motor Corp., Chrysler Group, and Fiat SpA's North American arm, all said they are confident that their mileage claims are true. Read more about industry concerns over inflated mpg claims here.
Drivers Faced 'Fiscal Cliff' at Gas Pump in 2012
Gasoline prices are poised to turn in a record annual average price in 2012, as drivers faced their own fiscal cliff at the pump. "Gas prices in 2012 are likely to be the most expensive ever on an annual basis," Michael Green of the American Automobile Association said. According to USA Today, with just over a month to go, the national average in 2012 is $3.63 a gallon, outpacing 2011's annual record of $3.51. That's in spite of the fact that it has cost less to fill up in recent weeks. The average price of a gallon of gas in November is on track to be the lowest month since July, Green noted. Gas prices have pinched consumer wallets already this year, and now they face tax increases and government spending cuts in 2013 unless Congress and President Obama can forge a deal to avoid the "fiscal cliff" before year-end. Prices are down from a high of $3.93 a gallon in April. Thursday's national average of $3.41 a gallon is 11 cents more than it was a year ago on the same date, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Click here for more on the pain drivers have felt at the pump in 2012.
E15 Gasoline Could Cause Car Damage, AAA Warns
The AAA says the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and gasoline retailers should halt the sale of E15, a new ethanol blend that could damage millions of vehicles and void car warranties. AAA, which issued its warning today, says just 12 million of more than 240 million cars, trucks and SUVs now in use have manufacturers' approval for E15. Flex-fuel vehicles, 2012 and newer General Motors vehicles, 2013 Fords and 2001 and later model Porsches are the exceptions, reports The Detroit Free Press. "It is clear that millions of Americans are unfamiliar with E15, which means there is a strong possibility that many may improperly fill up using this gasoline and damage their vehicle," AAA President and CEO Robert Darbelnet says. "Bringing E15 to the market without adequate safeguards does not responsibly meet the needs of consumers." BMW, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota, and VW have said their warranties will not cover fuel-related claims caused by E15. Ford, Honda, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have said E15 use will void warranties due to potential corrosive damage to fuel lines, gaskets, and other engine components. Click here for more on potential problems associated with E15 fuel use.
Car Engines Downsized, Without Sacrificing Power
With gasoline prices surging to near-record levels and many experts forecasting a steady climb over the next few years, consumers are looking for ways to cut their fuel bills. There’s a clear trend towards downsizing, with compact and subcompact automobiles increasing their market share substantially. But Americans have traditionally been believers that big is better, and despite expectations, demand for SUVs and CUVs hasn't collapsed. If anything, sales of pickups are, well, picking up again. Yet, these vehicles are getting far more mileage than ever before and downsizing also gets the credit – but unless you peak under the hood, you may not notice. For example, Hyundai delivered quite a shock, a few years ago, when it introduced the latest-generation Sonata line, the midsize sedan coming equipped only with a four-cylinder engine rather than the traditionally prerequisite V-6 option. A growing number of competitors have since copied that approach. Today’s downsized engines are an entirely different breed, however, thanks to more sophisticated technologies like direct injection, variable valve timing, and advanced turbocharging, reports NBCNews.com. Read more about the evolution of the engine by clicking here.
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