Entries in Cars (71)


GM, Ford Sales Slip in July; Chrysler, Others Report Strong Month

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Any worries Americans have about the economy fail to dissuade them from buying cars.  

Chrysler had a banner July, with sales up 13 percent. Volkswagen posted a 27 percent jump. Toyota saw a 26-percent rise. And at Nissan, sales were up 16 percent.

General Motors and Ford Motor Co. didn’t fare quite as well last month. Sales of GM vehicles slipped 6 percent, the company said, while Ford reported a 4 percent decline in sales from the previous year.

Buyers closed out of the auto market since the recession are finding good deals on last year's models, better financing and strong trade-in values. Pent up demand, analysts say, is also helping consumers overcome the risk of a softer economy. The average car on the road is more than a decade old so some drivers need to buy rather than bring their clunker in for one more repair.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Americans Holding onto Their 'Clunkers' Longer than Ever Before

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. isn’t as car crazy as it once was, judging by falling vehicle sales over the last decade or so.

So what happens when the job picture gets better and home prices start rising again?  Are Americans going to go back to buying a new car every two or three years?

Not according to a survey by the automotive site, which found that 75 percent of respondents won’t return to their old car-buying ways even if the economy rebounds at some future time.

In the poll of 4,000 consumers, 40 percent said they will keep the car they now have and basically drive it “until it dies.”

And it's not because people want to be frugal; many motorists now believe that vehicles are built better than they used to be and are meant to last longer.  

Six in ten say their primary cars currently have at least 100,000 miles on them and two-thirds of that group say they’ll drive those cars until the odometer hits 150,000 miles or if the car breaks down, whichever comes first.

Asked why they’d hold onto their clunkers past 100,000 miles, 47 percent admitted that the economy was the main factor, while 44 percent say they are sticklers when it comes to repairs and maintenance.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fiat Offers Car With Built-In Espresso Maker

Fiat(NEW YORK) -- Italian automaker Fiat made headlines when it introduced a new line of stylish compact cars. And it’s making headlines again with its 500L model, which will come with a built-in espresso maker when it hits the market this fall.

“The 500L is the first standard-production car in the world to offer a true espresso coffee machine that [uses] the technology of the ‘A Modo Mio’ pods," a press release said. "It is perfectly integrated in the car with a deck designed expressly by Fiat.”

The espresso makers will be created in collaboration with Lavazza, an Italian coffee company.

It addition to premium coffee, the car will also offer a premium sound system created by Beats Audio.

Fiat says its new model offers greater functionality and space, user-friendly technology that’s also eco-friendly and a “trend-setting” interior design.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chevy Offers 60-Day Return Policy for New Vehicles

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you just purchased a new Chevy and aren't thrilled with the vehicle, don't worry: you can take it back for a full refund within 60 days.  

Between now and early September, Chevy buyers can return their new cars or trucks and get their money back as long as they've been driven less than 4,000 miles.

The return policy is part of a new offer from the automaker called "Love It or Return It." The marketing move by General Motors is aimed at reversing Chevrolet's recent drop in market share.  The offer is also geared towards clearing out Chevrolet's remaining inventory of 2012 vehicles.

USA Today reports "deals from other makers, too, are likely," but brands that have already begun selling 2013 models, like Hyundai and Kia, are not expected to join the trend.

Overall, car and truck sales have made strong gains compared to last year.

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


Obama Challenges China at WTO over Auto Tariffs

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(MAUMEE, Ohio) -- As he embarked on a campaign swing across northern Ohio, President Obama announced new action against China in the World Trade Organization, challenging duties imposed last year on U.S. auto exports.

“Just this morning my administration took a new action to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices that harm American automakers,” Obama said during a campaign stop in Maumee, Ohio. “We’re going to make sure that competition is fair. That’s what I believe. That’s part of our vision for America.”

The tough line toward China coincides with Obama’s appeal to blue collar workers in Ohio, home to many U.S. auto manufacturers and suppliers.  The bus tour — themed “Betting on America” — will promote the 2009 Obama-backed bailout of GM and Chrysler and portray the president as a champion of American manufacturing.

White House spokesman Jay Carney disputed that the timing of the announcement was anything other than coincidence.

“This is an action that has been in development for quite a long time. USTR [the U.S. Trade Representative] studies these issues and prepares actions with great deliberation to ensure their success at WTO. This one has been under development for many, many months,” Carney told reporters on Air Force One. “It can’t suddenly be a political action because it happens during the campaign.”

Carney noted that the new WTO complaint is the seventh the administration has filed against China and that the previous six have been “successful.”

Administration officials say the duties, which target Ohio-made cars like the Jeep Wrangler, affect $3.3 billion in exports, hampering prices and potentially imperiling jobs.

“The Chinese duties in question cover more than 80 percent of U.S. auto exports to China, including cars manufactured in Toledo and Marysville, Ohio, and Detroit and Lansing, Michigan,” said Carney. “The duties disproportionately fall on General Motors and Chrysler products because of the actions that President Obama took, as you know, to support the auto industry during the financial crisis.”

China cites Obama’s 2009 taxpayer-funded bailout of U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler to claim that the companies received an unfair advantage in the global marketplace, akin to subsidies that are forbidden by WTO rules.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Automakers Report Better-than-Expected June Sales

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- American consumers may be cautious about spending more money but they are buying new cars. From fuel efficient small cars to monster pickups, sales are up. Both U.S. and foreign automakers reported better than expected numbers for the month of June.

Chrysler saw its best June in five years with sales of the Fiat 500 and Chrysler 300 more than double those of a year ago. Ford had a decent June with sales up 7 percent. General Motors gained 16 percent compared to 2011. Sales of the Chevrolet Volt more than tripled compared to a year ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Why a New Car May Now Cost You Less

Steve Gorton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Prices for new cars are down $500 year over year according to automotive pricing guide Kelley Blue Book, with some cars seeing larger drops than others.

Japanese car models saw the biggest year-over-year declines, especially those that were previously impacted by severe inventory shortages after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The average Honda model is selling for nearly $1,200 less than the price last year, according to Alec Gutierrez, Kelley Blue Book’s senior market analyst of automotive insights.

Subaru, Mazda and Toyota cars are about $700 to $800 less than last year.

“Compare this to the average year-over-year declines of less than $500 for Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and it’s no wonder the Japanese automakers have been able to considerably increase market share this year,” Gutierrez said in a statement.

Some specific models saw even deeper discounts.

The 2012 Honda Accord and 2012 Nissan Sentra are down almost $1,500, with an average price of $20,350 and $16,000, respectively.

The 2012 Toyota Prius is down $2,500 from last year, with an average price this year of $22,650, though it is still selling at 95 percent of its original manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).   At this time last year, the Prius was selling at almost 10 percent more than the MSRP because of high fuel prices and “nonexistent inventory,” according to Kelley Blue Book.

The picture is much different now with more inventory from Japanese carmakers and lower gas prices.  The national gas price average for regular gas is $3.44, down nearly 10 cents from a week ago, the Department of Energy reported on Monday.  This week’s price is down nearly 14 cents from a year ago.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High Gas Prices Driving Buyers Toward More Fuel Efficient Cars

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- High gas prices are dictating how car buyers go about purchasing their next vehicle.

A new survey from Consumer Reports found that 37 percent of consumers would make fuel economy their top priority when shopping for their next automobile.  That's followed by quality (17 percent), safety (16 percent), value (14 percent) and performance (6 percent).

Jeff Bartlett, Consumer Reports' deputy auto editor, said it's clear drivers are feeling the pain at the pump.

"Gas prices have been high for quite some time now.  And there is no real sign that they're going to go down to the point that they were just a few years ago.  So, looking to balance their budgets and keep an eye on costs, consumers are really looking at the operating costs of owning a vehicle," he said.

In fact, 90 percent of respondents cited gasoline costs as the number one reason for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

The pain at the pump is also leading car buyers to consider a change in how their vehicles are powered.  Nearly three-quarters -- 73 percent -- of those surveyed said they might be open to alternatively fueled vehicles, like hybrids and electric cars.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


'Sudden Acceleration' Hyundai Crash Caught on Camera?

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Korean officials are now investigating whether dashboard camera video that shows an elderly Korean couple speeding through crowded city streets and then plowing into another vehicle at 80 mph is evidence of sudden, uncontrolled acceleration by the vehicle.

Footage of the May 6 crash, in which 17 people were injured, was posted on an Internet forum by the couple's son, who told Korean media he didn't think that the police or the auto manufacturer would believe that the crash was caused by sudden, unexplained acceleration.

The son, who would only give his family name, Kwon, to Korean media, said his father, the driver, suffered fractured ribs and fingers, and his mother needed an operation to stop internal bleeding.

The incident, which occurred in heavy traffic in Daegu, one of South Korea's largest cities, was captured by a camera mounted on the Sonata's dashboard and facing forward. In the 29-second clip, the car accelerates quickly from a complete standstill. The driver weaves in and out of traffic, trying to avoid impact as his wife blurts, "Oh my God, what is going on?" The driver then slams into the back of a stopped car at 129 kilometers per hour.

On Monday, the Korean government said it planned to investigate the incident, and that it is also investigating several other incidents of alleged sudden acceleration.

In a statement to ABC News, Hyundai Motors said, "The Vehicle is being inspected by the Korean National Forensic Service. There is no time estimate for the conclusion of the investigation."

On May 5, Hyundai announced that all its cars are now manufactured with brake override systems, which are designed to stop sudden acceleration incidents. According to Korean media reports the vehicle from the Daegu crash was a 2009 Sonata.

ABC News has reported extensively on alleged sudden acceleration incidents in Toyotas. Toyota recalled millions of vehicles to address sticking accelerator pedals or misplaced floor mats. In all other cases, Toyota attributed complaints of sudden acceleration to "driver error," saying its research has shown the driver mistakenly pressed the gas pedal instead of the brake.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio