Entries in Automobiles (14)


White Is World’s Most Popular Car Color in 2012

Ryan McVay/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- People the world over drive more white cars than any other color, according to a new survey.

Mauve put in a strong showing; aubergine and puce moved up in the rankings. Vermillion did surprisingly well. But there was just no beating white, according to PPG Industries, a color, paint and coatings company headquartered in Pittsburgh, which every year surveys car buyers on their color preferences.

According to PPG’s 2012 report, metal shades (gold, bronze and copper) increased in popularity.

In rank order, the colors most popular with drivers were: white (22 percent); silver (20 percent); black (19 percent); gray (12 percent); red (nine percent); natural (eight percent); blue (seven percent); green (two percent); and ‘other’ (one percent).

PPG every year hosts an Automotive Color Trend Show, at which it presents its findings and predictions about consumers’ color preferences -- not just for cars, but for products ranging from laptop computers to buildings, homes, airplanes and heavy equipment. The most popular color for heavy equipment is “Ouch," a mixture of tan and yellow.

“The palette being developed for the automotive segment continues to be influenced by culture, nature, fashion, interior design and new pigment technology,” says PPG color manager Jane Harrington.  The company itself introduced 64 new exterior shades this year, including Elixir, a metallic mixture of silver and magenta, and Opulence, a refined red pearl with intense jewel tone.

Of course some of the choice of colors may not be entirely up to consumers. Rental and fleet cars lean toward black and white because these paint jobs are cheaper than the vivid metallics.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


New Law Would Block Rental of Recalled Cars

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new bill that would keep rental car companies from renting out vehicles that have been recalled because of safety risks was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, named after two girls who died in a recalled car rented to them by Enterprise, would require companies to ground vehicles in their fleet that are under safety recall until they are repaired.

"If a recall notice has been issued for a rented car, that car should be taken off the road until it's fixed – it's that simple," said Rep. Lois Capps, D.-California, one of the sponsors of the bill. "Passing this straightforward bill will protect the public's safety and ensure that what happened to Raechel and Jacquie Houck will never happen again."

Cally Houck, the mother of Raechel and Jacquie Houck, began pushing for changes to the law after her two daughters, aged 24 and 20, were killed in 2004 when the Chrysler PT Cruiser they rented from Enterprise apparently began leaking steering fluid and suddenly caught fire before crashing into an oncoming semi-tractor trailer.

As reported in a 2010 ABC News investigation, the car had been under a safety recall for the potential fire hazard, but was still rented to the sisters.

The Houck family sued Enterprise, and after a lengthy legal fight, the company admitted negligence and was required to pay $15 million in damages.

After the ABC News report, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation to see how quickly rental car companies repair vehicles that have been recalled.

In February, Houck started a petition on calling on Enterprise, the nation's largest rental car company, to drop its opposition to an earlier version of the bill that was introduced in the Senate last year by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D.-California, and Chuck Schumer, D.-New York.

The petition garnered signatures from over 100,000 people, and within days, Enterprise had changed its stance and announced it would be supporting the law.

But last month, Sen. Boxer, joined by Houck, announced that three of the nation's four major rental car companies had declined to sign a pledge promising not to rent or sell cars under safety recall until those cars are fixed.

Boxer said that only Hertz had agreed to the pledge, but that Enterprise, Avis and Dollar Thrifty had not. "I want to say to America's families: You demand that all these companies sign this simple pledge. . . Tell your families that Hertz is the only one that signed this pledge."

There, Houck said that a law is necessary because "we cannot depend on the industry to do the right thing."

The three companies that declined to sign a pledge still maintained that they support federal legislation to ensure rental car safety, but they believe that any legislation should also cover other business that transport passengers, like limousine and taxi companies.

Representatives of Enterprise, Avis and Dollar Thrifty all responded to Boxer's press conference by saying their companies address safety recalls in a timely fashion. An Enterprise spokesperson said categorically that the company "does NOT rent any vehicles under recall that have not been repaired first." An Avis spokesperson said the company "[does] not and will not rent a vehicle" under recall, while Dollar Thrifty released a June 5 letter to Boxer in which the company asserted that "Dollar Thrifty has an outstanding safety record . . . specifically with respect to the timely repair of safety recalls."

An aide to Sen. Boxer told ABC News that Boxer and Sen. Schumer are now "putting the finishing touches" on a Senate version of the new House bill.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Romney Takes Credit for Auto Industry Turnaround

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(LANSING, Mich.) -- Just hours before making his return to his native state of Michigan where he will deliver a speech at a local university here, Mitt Romney reiterated his claim that he should be given credit for the resurgence of the auto industry, reigniting the debate over how the auto industry should have been helped and inviting criticism from Democrats dubbing the remark a “new low in dishonesty.”

“My own view, by the way, was that the auto companies needed to go through bankruptcy before government help, and frankly that’s finally what the President did,” Romney said during an interview with ABC News’ Cleveland affiliate WEWS on Monday.  “He took them through bankruptcy. That was the right course I argued for from the very beginning. It was the AW and the President that delayed the idea of bankruptcy.”

“I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done and help was given, the companies got back on their feet, so I’ll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry’s come back,” Romney told WEWS.

President’ Obama’s National Campaign Co-Chair – and member of the “Obama for America Truth Team” – former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland responded to Romney’s claim, writing in a statement, “Mitt Romney may think he can fool the American people by hiding his belief that we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt,’ but the American people won’t let him. His comments today that he will ‘take a lot of credit that the [auto] industry has come back’ are a new low in dishonesty, even for him.”

“At the time the loan was extended, auto industry leaders were saying that they couldn’t keep the industry alive without a lifeline from the federal government,” said Strickland. “And so, the President did something politically unpopular at the time and he gave them a lifeline to restructure and because of his decision to do so, the industry is prospering and spurring growth across the nation.”

Romney has suggested before that the managed bankruptcy that the auto giants went through was his own idea, and did so explicitly in his controversial 2008 New York Times op-ed titled, “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” in which he argued that a so-called “managed bankruptcy” would have resulted in a faster turnaround.

The auto bailout was funded with Wall Street bailout funds and begun under the Bush administration. Romney’s 2008 op-ed opposing it hasn’t always played well with Michigan residents, many of whom were relieved to see the industry saved, regardless of the means in which it was done.

But Romney has not backed down from his 2008 position. Just a few days prior to the Michigan primary earlier this year, he wrote another op-ed in the Detroit News that echoed many of those same messages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Flying Car, Cadillac CUE Are Tech Hits at New York Auto Show

General Motors(NEW YORK) -- There sure are a lot of cars at the New York Auto Show this week. The Javits Center in New York City looks like the world's largest car showroom. But in the sea of four-wheelers, there's also a whole lot of technology floating around. Below are some of those technology highlights:

Cadillac CUE:  The 2013 Cadillac SRX's dashboard has a lot in common with your smartphone. It has an 8-inch touch screen with haptic feedback, which means you feel a slight vibration when you touch the virtual buttons on it. It also has a 12.3-inch LCD gauge cluster, which can be completely customized. There are four layouts, all of which let you show a range of information. There are options for the very tech-savvy and the basic user. CUE is an acronym, short for Cadillac User Experience. Cadillac wouldn't talk pricing, but the 2012 SRX starts at $36,860.

Ford Escape's Hands-Free Lift Gate: 
Kick under the new 2013 Ford Escape's rear while the key is in your pocket and the trunk will open. Using capacitive sensing and two sensors on the car's bumper, the feature is meant to help assist you when you have your hands full with groceries or kids. And don't worry, the technology can understand the difference between your foot and, say, a cat or dog. The feature will be standard on the 2013 Ford Escape, which will be out this spring.

Terrafugia Transition:  Sure, the technology in other cars may make your life easier while you're fighting traffic jams right now, but one day in the not-too-distant future you may just be able to avoid that traffic jam by flying over it. The highlight of the auto show has been Terrafugia's Transition flying car. The two-seat vehicle can drive on regular roads, but its folding wings can also launch it into the sky. It should be on sale by the end of the year. Terrafugia says the Transition, which would use conventional gasoline as you drive it, wings folded, to the nearest airstrip, is not just a flight of fancy. The list price is $279,000, and the company says 100 of the vehicles have been reserved.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Average Cost of New Car Rises to over $28K, Report Finds

Comstock/Thinkstock(WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.) -- Consumers are now forking over more dough than ever to buy a car, an indication that the auto industry is steering back onto the road after swerving off four years ago.

J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 annual automotive industry outlook reports that it now costs on average $28,341 to buy a new car -- an 11 percent jump from 2008.

The increase in price is partly attributed to in-vehicle entertainment features that now come standard in many models.

Another reason consumers are digging deeper in their pockets than in the recent past is due to cash rebates and other incentives falling by $400 from years ago.

Naturally, the huge profits automakers are enjoying after languishing for years come with a caveat from National Automobile Dealers Association executive John Humphrey, who says, "We see increasing optimism but the auto maker discipline in production must remain."

J.D. Power also warns that the industry must be wary of consumers with dicey credit histories being given loans they can't afford.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Honda Plans to Build New Plant in Ohio

Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- Honda announced on Monday that it plans to build a new facility in Ohio to make the Acura NSX supercar, which it debuted at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

The iconic sports car has not been sold for more than five years and the original NSX was built in Japan from 1990 to 2005. Honda says the new NSX will be on the market within the next three years.

The car will not only be built in central Ohio, it will also be designed there as well.

While the new facility will create jobs, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that Honda officials have told the paper the number of jobs created will be significantly fewer than GM’s Corvette plant in Kentucky, which has 400 workers.

The company says the new plant is another investment in its almost 30-year relationship with the Buckeye State. Honda says it builds more cars and light trucks in the state than all of the other automakers combined.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Car Manufacturers Have Record December

Steve Gorton/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Chrysler announced its best monthly retail sales in four year years, leading the pack of U.S. car makers who had capped a robust 2011 with strong December sales. Consumers unleashed pent-up demand -- although sales of an estimated 12.8 million vehicles for the year were still far short of their peak of 16.1 million reached before the recession began in 2007.

Chrysler Group reported 138,019 U.S. car sales in December, a 37 percent increase compared with December 2010 and its best monthly sales since May 2008. The company reported strong sales of the Chrysler brand sedans and Jeep sales.

Chrysler sold 1.37 million units in 2011, an increase of 26 percent from 2010, the largest percentage sales gain of any full-line manufacturer, the company said in a release.

Sales of Chrysler-branded cars increased 83 percent from a year ago, the largest percentage sales gain of all the Chrysler Group brands, and represented its best monthly sales since August 2008. The Fiat brand surged 44 percent compared to November. Compared to a year ago, Jeep sales increased 41 percent and Dodge sales increased 28 percent.

"December sales are so far proving that 2012 will be another strong year for the industry, Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst at Kelley Blue Book, said. "Healthy automobile sales are a positive signs in terms of consumer spending which is quite important for the economy as a whole."

Consumer spending makes up for 70 percent of U.S. GDP, and vehicle sales are one of the largest household expenses.

A little more than 11.5 million vehicles were sold through November and with the over 1.2 million sales likely come for December after all manufacturers announce their numbers, Gutierrez estimates about 12.8 million vehicle sales in 2011.

Interest rates remain at historic lows which add fuel to the fire for consumers shopping for cars, said Paul Taylor, the National Automobiles Dealers Association's chief economist.

"Cash incentives and low interest rates are likely to be a part of manufacturers' efforts to regain market share," he said.

Gutierrez projects industry sales to be slightly greater than 1.2 million units overall this month, which equates to a 13.4 million unit annualized sale pace.

Car inventories were tighter toward the end of the year especially for Japanese manufacturers, after a supply disruption from the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan in March, and massive flooding in Thailand. Gutierrez projects sales of Japanese manufacturers Toyota will increase 6 to 7 percent for the year while Honda may increase 3 to 5 percent. Gutierrez projects sales of Korean manufacturer Hyundai will increase around 20 percent.

"We're expecting to see strong gains from all three manufacturers but not as strong as Chrysler," Gutierrez said.

Manufacturers prefer to have a 60-day supply of cars ready to sell, according to Gutierrez. Chrysler Group finished December with a 64-day supply of inventory, or 326,087 units.

GM had an inventory spanning 67 days at 583,407 units.

General Motors reported sales of 234,351 units in December, up 5 percent compared to last year. Sales for the calendar year increased 14 percent for the year to more than 2.5 million units.

GM's Chevrolet Volt sold more than 1,500 units in December, its best month ever. Sales of the Chevrolet Cruze increased 54 percent and sales for the Chevrolet Sonic increased 42 percent year-over-year. The Chevrolet brand had the most sales at 161,158 units in December, an increase of 8.9 percent from the previous year. There were 1.8 million Chevrolet cars sold for the year, an increase of 13.4 percent from 2010.

Ford Motor Co. sold 2,148,806 vehicles in 2011, up 11 percent for the year. The company had its best December for retail sales since 2005 with 210,140 cars sold in the month, up 10 percent from the previous year.

Ford's small cars, utilities and truck sales boosted sales. Small car sales increased 25 percent in 2011 with 244,291 cars sold. The company said it expects the U.S. economy to expand 2 to 3 percent this year and industry sales of13.5 million to 14.5 million.

Gutierrez said small cars have been strong sellers because of higher gas prices this year. The monthly national average in May for a gallon of regular gas was $3.91, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The national weekly average is $3.30.

Nissan Motor Co. reported a strong year, with an increase in sales of 7.7 percent from last year with 100,927 cars sold in December. The Japanese car maker's Nissan division set a new December sales record, increasing 10.7 percent with 89,937 cars. Sales of the luxury Infiniti vehicles fell 12.1 percent from the previous year to 10,990 vehicles.

Nissan reported 1,042,534 vehicles sold in 2011, up from 908,570 in 2010.

Sales of the all-electric Nissan LEAF totaled 954 units in December, with deliveries totaling 9,674 since the vehicle's U.S. debut a year ago. With sales exceeding 21,000 globally, Nissan says the LEAF is the world's best-selling electric car.

"Although 2011 had some unique challenges stemming from natural disasters in Japan and Thailand and uncertain economic conditions around the globe, Nissan managed the crisis better than most, allowing our lineup to gain momentum throughout the year," Al Castignetti, vice president and general manager, Nissan Sales, said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Automakers Expected to Release Strong Sales Figures

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- American automakers on Wednesday will release what are expected to be encouraging sales figures for the year 2011.

“We're seeing pretty strong growth towards the end of this year as we exit and come into 2012,” said Ford sales analyst Erick Merkle.

The industry, Merkle says, is seeing a trend -- one that indicates people are more confident about their economic futures.

“People are starting to feel a little more easy, a little more secure,” said Merkle.

“[Consumers are] going out and buying things again,” he continued, and one of those things, Merkle says, are automobiles.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


2012 Small Cars: Safer and More Affordable Than Ever

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Small, safe and affordable: That’s the latest trend seen in the 2012 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety top safety picks.

This year’s top selections are vehicles that earned the highest crash-test ratings in four categories; a frontal-offset crash test at 40 mph, a side-impact test that mimics a collision with an SUV or pickup truck, a rollover roof-strength test, and a rear-impact evaluation test, institute spokesman Russ Rader said.

Vehicles are then categorized as good, acceptable, marginal or poor, based on their test performances. Each of this year’s picks was rated “good” in all four categories. The Fiat 500 was among the top-four picks in the mini category.

Of the 29 top-rated mini and small cars, 20 of them cost $20,000 or less. The new numbers indicate continuing demand for safe but affordable small cars, Rader said.

Rader expects such a trend to continue in the future.  “Automakers are really focusing on safety because they know it’s a selling point and they know that consumers are paying attention to safety,” he said. “No automaker wants to be seen as behind the curve in crash-test safety.”

Although compact cars are safer than ever before, “the laws of physics still apply,” Rader warned. “Even though these small cars are top crash-test performers, it doesn’t mean they are just as safe as bigger vehicles with the same rating.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chevrolet Centennial: 100 Years of Iconic Cars

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- Chevrolet celebrates its centennial anniversary Nov. 3, 2011. The Chevy division of General Motors prides itself on its rich place in U.S. auto history and its standing as an affordable global brand.

Auto racer Louis Chevrolet co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Co. with William C. Durant in 1911, with the goal of creating a racer’s dream car.  The Series C “Classic Six” vehicle premiered in 1912, and sold for $2,150.  Louis left the auto-making industry in 1913 to focus on racing, but granted Durant the rights to continue using the Chevrolet name on future models.

Over the past century, Chevrolet has produced several iconic cars and trucks that have revolutionized General Motors’ reach. Chevy has also secured a place in U.S. pop culture history, popping up in the songs of Don McClean, The Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen and Prince, among others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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