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Entries in Vehicles (18)

Wednesday
Oct102012

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

Thursday
Sep272012

Rental Car Companies Pledge Not to Rent Recalled Cars

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The nation's four largest rental car companies have banded together in a pledge not to rent out any vehicles that are subject to a manufacturer safety recall and to support legislation that would legally enforce the promise.

Enterprise/National/Alamo, Hertz/Advantage, Avis/Budget joined Hertz in the agreement pushed by Sen. Charles Schumer (D.-N.Y.), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D.-Calif.) and by Cally Houck, a California mother whose daughters died in the crash of a rental car that was under recall.

Houck's two daughters, Raechel and Jacqueline, were killed in 2004 after the PT Cruiser they had 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 and, after a lengthy legal battle, Enterprise had to pay the Houck family $15 million in damages.

WATCH ABC News Investigates: Deadly Rental Cars on the Road

Under current law, car dealerships are banned from selling vehicles that are under a safety recall, but the restriction does not prevent rental agencies from renting out recalled cars. New legislation sponsored by Boxer and Schumer, called the Raechel and Jacqueline Houck Safe Rental Car Act of 2012, aims to close that loophole.

"If this bill had been the law, and the rental companies complied, my beautiful, precious daughters would still be alive," Cally Houck said day. "My abiding hope is that it will be enacted, and other families will be spared our devastating loss."

After the 2010 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.

With the exception of Hertz, all the major American rental car companies declined to sign a pledge this summer saying they wouldn't rent cars under recall. At the time, they said that while they supported safe rental car legislation, they wanted it to extend to other businesses that transport passengers in vehicles, like limousine and taxi companies. All the companies said then that they address safety recalls in a timely manner, and representatives for Enterprise and Avis said their policy was already not to rent cars that were under recall.

But their recent decision to sign the pledge -- along with the newfound support of several safety auto agencies -- is a "breakthrough years in the making," according to Sen. Schumer.

"Consumers will no longer have to worry about what they aren't being told when they go to the rental car counter," he said. "With the industry's full backing, we think we have a great shot to get this legislation passed before the end of the year."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

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

Tuesday
Apr102012

Little Loyalty Exists Among Hybrid Car Owners, Research Finds

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hybrid vehicle owners really love their cars -- or do they?

Consumer Reports says that according to auto industry data provider and research company R.L. Polk, just over one in three hybrid owners -- 35 percent -- decide to buy another hybrid when it comes time to purchase a new vehicle.  The numbers are based on those owning hybrids from 2008 through 2001. 

Meanwhile, if Toyota Prius owners are taken out of the equation, the rate of hybrid drivers returning to an automobile with at least two distinct power sources drops to 25 percent.

While this doesn’t sound too promising for proponents of hybrid cars, those who stick with them are very loyal to the brand they drive.

For instance, six in 10 people who own hybrids made by Toyota will purchase another Toyota while just over half of Honda hybrid owners will buy a Honda the next time around.

Past Consumer Reports surveys have shown that drivers’ ownership habits are increasingly predicated by the cost of gasoline.  Last November, 83 percent said they’d be willing to pay more for a car with better fuel efficiency and from that group, 56 percent said they’d consider a hybrid, although what they say to poll takers often differs from what actually happens when they go car shopping.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec152011

Record Number of Vehicles Score Insurance Institute's Top Safety Pick

Fstop/Photodisc/Getty Images(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) came out with its list of the safest car models for 2012 on Thursday, and a record number of vehicles made the cut.

"In all, 115 vehicles earned the top award and that's up from 66 at the beginning of 2011 and just 27 at the beginning of 2010," said Insurance Institute spokesman Russ Rader.

The 2012 Top Safety Picks include 69 cars, 38 SUVs, five minivans, and three pickups.  Eighteen new models were among the winners, while the remaining 97 were vehicles that received the honor last year.  The award is given to vehicles that score the highest in tests that measure how well drivers are protected in front, side, rollover and rear crashes.

Toyota/Lexus/Scion led the 2012 crop with 15 winners, while General Motors followed with 14.  Volkswagen/Audi claimed 13 spots, and Ford/Lincoln and Honda/Acura both received 12 awards each.

[CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF WINNERS OF THE 2012 TOP SAFETY PICKS]

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Nov182011

Coming Soon: An iPad in Your Car's Center Console?

Alex Stone/ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- The next car you drive could have a major high-tech upgrade.

The big automakers are giving people a preview of the technological advances they have in the works at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which opened to the public on Friday.

While eco-friendly cars are still popular, they say consumer demand for high-tech vehicles is even bigger.

“They want voice activated controls and they want to be able to customize the interior of their car like they would their tablet device,” says Jim Farley, vice president of sales at Ford.

Ford, General Motors and Toyota have flashy new systems they hope will attract buyers.

At Cadillac, which is owned by GM, engineers have designed a new system called Cue that is equivalent to putting an Apple iPad into the center console of their vehicles.  Drivers can move from screen to screen with the slide of a finger, and the pinch and stretch features popular on the iPad can be used to move maps in the car navigation system.

“We’ve really taken the interface that people are used to using in their everyday consumer electronic products like tablets and brought that user experience into the automotive space,” Stuart Norris, the engineer behind Cadillac’s Cue System, told ABC News Radio.

Toyota’s new system for its cars, premiering in the Camry, will allow users to use their center console screen to make dinner reservations on Open Table or buy tickets.  Apps will be downloaded and available much like they are on an iPhone and stored on the computer system within the car.

At Ford, the automaker is updating its MyFordTouch system, which has been criticized recently by some drivers who have become more accustomed to newer systems for being hard to use or finicky.

“We’re making it simpler, faster to respond and easier to use,” explains Alan Hall, an engineer on MyFordTouch.  “It launches on the new 2013 Escape, and Edge, and Flex.”

Current owners won’t have to take their Ford to a dealer to get updated.  Instead, Ford will be mailing USB drives to current owners of their compatible vehicles so they can update their MyFordTouch system themselves.

There are critics who believe giving drivers too much information and access to services like the Internet while driving is not a good thing.  TrueCar Vice President Jesse Toprak says automakers are walking a very fine line right now of giving customers what they want without giving them too much, such that it will distract their attention from the road.

“How badly do you need to check your Facebook updates while you’re driving?  Can’t you wait until you get home?” asks Toprak.

He also sees the other side of the issue, and says if car companies don’t offer the technology in their vehicles, drivers will seek it out on their phones anyway.

Most of the new iPad-like systems will be launching in the 2013 model year vehicles.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep222011

Former Hummer Factory Presents First Mass-Produced Car for Wheelchair Users

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- Marc Buoniconti, paralyzed in a freak football accident 16 years ago, said he felt like a “proud parent” when the first mass-produced car built for wheelchair users rolled off the line this week at a Mishawaka, Ind., factory that once made H2 Hummers.

In 1985, Buoniconti, the son of former Miami Dolphins star Nick Buoniconti, suffered a severe spinal cord injury playing for South Carolina’s military institution, the Citadel.

Since then, he has raised money for spinal injury research and over the last few years helped design a new car for wheelchair users.

This week, he received the first MV-1, made for Miami-based Vehicle Production Group (VPG) by AM General, which also builds military Hummers at its Indiana plant.

Until now, disabled Americans who use wheelchairs had to rely on public transportation or expensive vehicle conversions.

“The problem with conversions,” Buoniconti told ABC News, “is basically they’re an afterthought.”

The new MV-1, which starts at $39,950, has a 3-foot-high door that is wide enough to allow a person in a wheelchair to use a built-in ramp to get in alone.

A key selling point for disabled users, Buoniconti believes, is safety -- considering most spinal cord injuries are suffered in auto accidents.

“It’s a solid chassis, like the Hummer frame, so you can imagine how strong that vehicle is,” he said.

VPG initially plans to build 1,000 cars this year and as many as 30,000 by 2013.  It’s offering models powered by gasoline or compressed natural gas.

Buoniconti, president of the Miami Fund to Cure Paralysis, is convinced the disabled community will respond, particularly since wheelchair-accessible conversions can add $15,000 to $25,000 to the price of a car or van.

“Bottom dollar:  it’s inherently more expensive to live life with a disability than a normal life.  So any time you can buy a vehicle for less, that’s what you’re going to wind up doing,” he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Toyota's North American Production Back to 100%

TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images(TORRANCE, Calif.) -- For the first time since the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan earlier this year, Toyota has returned to normal production levels in the U.S.

The Japanese automaker announced Tuesday that its North American vehicle production is back to 100 percent, well ahead of schedule.  The company had predicted it would return to full capacity by November or December of this year.

Toyota was forced to cut back production after the March 11 disasters in Japan caused a shortage of Japanese-made parts.

The automaker makes 12 vehicles in North America, including the Camry, Corolla, Tacoma, RAV 4 and Highlander.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug122011

Prices of Used Cars Soar as Fewer Consumers Buy New Vehicles

Comstock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- One of the biggest investments that the average American makes is turning out to be a gold mine.

According to Kelley Blue Book, late-model used cars are soaring in value because of weak new vehicle sales, which in turn is making slightly older automobiles a more scarce, and therefore more hot, commodity.

Kelley, the gold standard in auto pricing information, says that the average one- to three-year-old vehicle is selling for around $23,000.  Compare that to 2008, before the bottom dropped out on the U.S. economy, when used cars were averaging around $15,000.

That's a 16 percent increase annually.  Practically no other current investment boasts such a great return.

Alec Gutierrez, manager of vehicle valuation for Kelley Blue Book, adds, "Consumers who plan to sell or trade in a used car soon will likely see their vehicle hold its value well.  Alternatively, shoppers in the market for a used car will continue to pay more, making it difficult to buy at a discount."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul282011

Obama to Announce Goal for Cars to Up Fuel Efficiency by 2025

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Over the objections of the automotive industry, President Obama will announce the government's goal Friday for all cars and light-duty trucks to offer an estimated 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.

This improved fuel efficiency would affect models built from 2017 through 2025, greatly boosting the initial target of 35.5 mpg by 2016.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday that this program will mean "significant cost savings for consumers at the pump, dramatically reduce oil consumption, cut pollution and create jobs."

The administration also hopes more fuel efficient vehicles will greatly reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil sources.

Detroit automakers have complained that such a goal is not feasible since it would drive up the costs of making cars and light-duty trucks, with the added expenses having to be passed along to consumers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio