Entries in Cars (71)


Hyundai Uses Baboons for Car Durability Test

JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/GettyImages(LONDON) -- Dozens of baboons were caught on camera jumping on, scratching at and generally trying to destroy a Hyundai New Generation i30 hatchback vehicle parked in a safari park in Britain this week. Still, this was no monkey business. The episode was staged by the carmaker in an attempt to prove the new model vehicle’s durability.

Hyundai sent the car into the Knowsley Safari Park, near Liverpool, England, and let a few dozen of the park’s notoriously messy baboons loose.

In a video posted to YouTube this week, the baboons are seen treating the car as their own playground, which is exactly what the South Korea-based carmaker wanted.

Hyundai is billing the New Generation i30, the European equivalent of the Elantra GT in the U.S., as a car specifically designed for families.  So the company says the baboons were used to demonstrate that the car could survive damage inflicted by children, or, as the company calls them, the “little monkeys in the back.”

The Knowsley Safari Park baboons were chosen for their well-known love of tearing park visitors’ cars apart, the company says in a description of the test posted alongside the YouTube video.

Billing the test as the “first endurance test of its kind in the U.K. by a car manufacturer,” both Hyundai and the park say it was a success.

“I’ve seen thousands of cars pass through this enclosure, get mobbed by monkeys, and none have lasted the distance as well as this Hyundai,” reads a review by David Ross, the park’s general manager.  “These baboons are incredibly inquisitive. If you put them on any car they will scour it for the weak points and find any faults. At one point there were 40 monkeys in the car…that’s 10 times the size of the average human family!”

“You have to be pretty brave to subject a car to the most rigorous quality testers in the world, and the monkeys certainly gave our New Generation i30 a thorough examination,” Hyundai said in a statement.  “The fact that it survived with only a few scrapes is testament to the way a modern Hyundai is designed and engineered.”

To compensate the baboons for their time, Hyundai says it donated $1,600 to the Primate Society of Great Britain, one of the safari park’s supported charities that helps monkeys and apes in captive care.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cars Cost More to Operate But Keep Their Value

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Americans should appreciate the fact that their two-and-three-year-old cars are hardly depreciating in value.

Auto club AAA's annual report on the cost of owning and operating a vehicle finds that because the economy is still soft, people are reluctant to trade in older cars for newer models.

It should be no surprise that it costs more to own and operate cars, AAA says, up 1.9 percent from last year, with much of that due to rising gasoline prices.

For instance, if you drive an average of 15,000 miles annually, AAA figures you're paying 59.6 cents per mile or $8,946 based on depreciation, fuel, insurance, finance charges, maintenance and tires.

That's the downside of the study. The upside is that the demand for used cars is so high right now that if your vehicle was worth $15,000 in 2011, chances are it's nearly worth that much now.

Dealers normally have a good supply of two-to-three-year-old used cars on hand, but with owners less inclined to trade them in, these models are being sold at a premium.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Survey: High Prices Major Complaint About Auto Repairs Shops

Comstock/Thinkstock(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- Just hearing the words “auto repair shop” can send shivers up the spines of motorists who dread bringing their cars in for anything other than a tune-up.

Still, the latest Consumer Reports survey on auto repair experiences seems to indicate that most people are generally happy with the work that gets done.

Of the 5,400 respondents to the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey, just over three quarters said they were either completely or very satisfied with their repair shop.

That leaves one in four who weren’t.

Of that group of disgruntled customers, 38 percent said they were bothered by the high cost of repairs.  This complaint was more prevalent with dealerships than independent shops.

Consumer Reports learned that number two on the list of repair shops gripes, which was about equal for dealerships and privately-owned businesses, was that the work wasn’t done right.

Beyond that, car owners complained about the length of time it took to get work done and having to bring their vehicles back to the mechanic because the repair “didn’t hold up.”

Among customers who decided to give up on an auto repair shop with which they were unhappy, 30 percent of women respondents said the reason they stopped using a dealership or independent was due to being taken advantage of because of their gender, even when the service manager was a woman.

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


Steer Clear of Buying a New Car on Tuesday, Site Suggests

Steve Gorton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If you're in the market to buy a new car, Tuesday may not be the best day to do so. says March 6 is one of the worst days of the year to purchase a new vehicle.

According to the website, which collects car-buying data in an effort to help users find the best bargains, the average car buyer will only get about six percent off the manufacturer’s suggested retail price on March 6, compared to the best deals of 8.5 percent to 9.5 percent off MSRP during the last weeks of December.

Mondays and Tuesdays are usually bad days to purchase a new car because business is slow and the beginning of any month is when prices are higher.  Dealers are more inclined to give customers a break at the end of the month and on weekends.

If you do wait on buying a car, just don’t go shopping on Tuesday, April 10 because that’s the day TrueCar says is absolutely the worst to head to your dealer.  The discount off the sticker price is expected to be only about 5.1 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mercedes Invisible Car Is Coming … Sort Of

PRNewsFoto/Mercedes-Benz USA(NEW YORK) -- How could it better be conveyed that hydrogen fuel cell technology will make car emissions disappear? Make a car disappear, of course.

That’s exactly what Mercedes tried with a viral ad of its forthcoming F-Cell vehicle. The company covered the car in strips of LED lights to make the entire side of the vehicle a large screen. It then attached a Canon 5D digital SLR camera to the other side of the car so it would then transmit what the lens sees to the car’s screen.

The result is a car that blends in with its environment.

Mercedes touts that there are zero emissions with this technology, since it emits only water vapor after burning the hydrogen fuel. While there are no full-on F-Cell cars on the market yet, all-electric, environment-friendly cars, such as the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, are now available. However, last week Chevy reported lackluster sales of the Volt and announced that it was halting production until April.

Mercedes told Mashable that’s its hydrogen-powered car was “ready for series production,” but others don’t expect mass production until 2015.

Of course, we'll probably have to wait even longer for a totally camouflaged car.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


DOT Delays Mandating Rearview Cameras…Again

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Mandating rearview cameras in all passenger vehicles would be the first government mandate designed to protect someone outside the car, but despite three letters from Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood notifying Congress it anticipated action by Wednesday and a prominent media report, ABC News has learned the Department of Transportation has decided to again delay what critics say is a life-saving measure.

“While the Department has made progress toward a final rule to improve rearward visibility, it has decided that further study and data analysis -- including of a wider range of vehicles and drivers -- is important to ensure the most protective and efficient rule possible,” the Department of Transportation said in a statement. “The Department remains committed to improving rearview visibility for the nation’s fleet and we expect to complete our work and issue a final rule by December 31, 2012.”

This is the second delay by the DOT, a year-long postponement in all that, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the safety of motor vehicles for children, says could cost 100 additional deaths.

The surprisingly terrible statistics are that 50 children a week are backed over by a moving vehicle, resulting in two deaths, with the majority of fatalities being toddlers one to two years of age.

Sixty percent of these tragedies happen in larger vehicles, which have larger blind zones -- the area behind the vehicle that cannot be seen. The blind spot for a pickup truck is 30 feet, while the average SUV or minivan has a blind zone of 15 feet and a family sedan has a blind zone 12 feet deep.

Fixing this problem would cost $200 a vehicle and $2.7 billion overall, according to Bloomberg. That is $18.5 million for every life saved, a cost-benefit ratio advocates say they hope is not too steep for government regulators.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Enterprise Rent-A-Car Blinks in Battle with California Mom

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Under pressure from a mother who lost her daughters in the crash of a recalled rental car, the nation's biggest car rental company said Thursday it had changed its stance and would back a new federal law banning the rental of cars recalled because of safety risks.

"In the past we believed that this step was unnecessary," said Laura Bryant, a spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings, "but a growing number of people, including our customers and business partners, clearly want more assurance on this critical issue. We hear them -- and what we've heard has caused us to rethink our stance."

The announcement came after Cally Houck, whose daughters died in a recalled car rented from Enterprise, launched a petition drive earlier this week calling on Enterprise to drop its opposition to the law. By Thursday, according to, the organization hosting the petition online, more than 100,000 people had signed the petition.

Houck said she had started the signature drive "to keep this from happening to another family and to be sure that my daughters' memory is preserved." She alleged that Enterprise both opposed the bill and had lobbied against it. Bryant confirmed that Enterprise had opposed the bill, but did not address whether the company had worked against it.

Hertz, the nation's second-largest rental car company, announced earlier this week that it had reached a deal with a consumer safety group to support federal oversight of rental car recalls. A spokesman for Avis, the third-largest company, told ABC News it was "currently reviewing and discussing the Hertz proposal."

While Enterprise had said as recently as Wednesday afternoon that it opposed the new law, proposed by Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Bryant said Thursday afternoon that Enterprise was "announcing its formal support for federal legislation to oversee the way car rental companies manage the safety recall process for vehicles in their fleets."

The nation's rental car companies together own more than 1.5 million vehicles, with hundreds of thousands subject to recall in any given year. The law proposed by Sen. Boxer and Sen. Schumer would stop care rental firms from renting out cars that are subject to federal safety recalls until after they are fixed. The senators attached the law as an amendment to a transportation bill that is up for vote in Congress later this month.

As featured in a 2010 ABC News report, Houck's two daughters, 24-year-old Raechel and 20-year-old Jacquie, 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. 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 to the family. 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.

Before announcing that Enterprise had decided to support the law, spokeswoman Laura Bryant had said the Houck accident was a "terrible tragedy," and that customer safety was Enterprise's "top priority," but that the company didn't believe legislation was necessary.

"[A] number of respected individuals, including elected officials and regulators, [believe] additional oversight of the recall process may be needed," said Bryant Wednesday. "While we believe this well-meaning legislation is unnecessary and based on inaccurate, obsolete data, our company continues to work with these individuals and organizations -- including NHTSA and the auto manufacturers -- to find common ground and produce a solution that addresses everyone's concerns."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Safer Alternative? New Technology Allows Drivers to Check Tweets and More

Ford Motor Company(NEW YORK) -- From checking tweets to purchasing concert tickets, automakers say they are providing a safer alternative to what drivers are already doing in their cars -- even though critics warn the move just adds to the distracted-driving epidemic.

Ford Motor Co.’s Sync uses voice commands to allow drivers to command and control apps on their smartphones, make calls and select songs on an MP3 player -- all without the use of their hands.

General Motors Co.’s CUE will have an eight-inch touch screen display that functions much like a tablet and smartphone, allowing drivers to make calls, access apps and maps and scroll through lists.

Mercedes-Benz’s Mbrace system will help drivers find destinations via Google Maps, locate a parked vehicle with their smartphone and buy event tickets.

Rob Reynolds, executive director of FocusDriven, an organization that seeks to educate people about the dangers of distracted driving, said these “infotainment systems” were dangerous because they were visually attractive to drivers.

“You shouldn’t be interacting with computers when you’re driving,” said Reynolds, whose teenage daughter was killed in a car crash caused by a distracted driver in 2007. “The propensity for loss of life is much too great.”

“Distracted driving is an epidemic. This will cause crashes, I guarantee it,” he said. “We need to listen to government bodies like the NTSB.”

In December, the National Transportation Safety Board urged all U.S. states to ban drivers from using electronic devices while driving, including for text messaging. In 2009, more than 5,400 people died and nearly 550,000 were injured in crashes linked to distraction, according to the Department of Transportation.

Reynolds said that by adding these in-dash technology systems to vehicles, carmakers were suggesting to drivers that they could safely drive while they are occupied doing other tasks.

But Alan Hall, Ford Motor Co.’s technology communications manager, said the company’s Sync program was in response to consumer trends that had grown in the last five years because of mobile devices.

“Drivers that are doing these activities (such as checking tweets), we are providing a safer alternative to them,” Hall told ABC News. “This is a growing trend inside of the car. Technology is critical for our customers.”

Doug VanDagens, the global director of connected services at Ford, said the carmaker was taking a practical view.

“We looked at what people were already doing in their cars. … If they’re doing that in their cars, we’re going to make it safer with voice [command],” he said. “Voice orientation … allows you to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road while you do things you normally do in the car. [Sync is] a safer alternative to how people use phones in the car.”

Carroll Lachnit, a features editor at, said carmakers were correct that drivers were requesting more technology in vehicles. A survey at the end of 2011 by Deloitte found that 59 percent of those ages 19 to 31 said that the most important part of a car’s interior as the in-dash technology. Of that 59 percent, 75 percent preferred a touch-screen interface to dials or buttons.

“Carmakers are in the business of selling cars … [and] meeting customer demand,” she told ABC News. “Automakers are trying to reach an accommodation and give consumers what they want in a safe way. [But] drivers need to be aware when they’re in the car [that] their job is to drive and multitasking is not a good thing. No[body] is making you update your Facebook status in your car.”

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

ABC News Radio