Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mahindra Pickup Arrives Late, But Well-Equipped

Expect Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.’s first U.S.-market offering to make its showroom debut in first-quarter 2010.

In deference to the demanding nature of American consumers, Mahindra tweaked the yet-unnamed small pickup, which delayed by about three months its production launch.

Output of U.S.-specification models now is set for December at the auto maker’s assembly plant in Nasik, India, with showroom arrival scheduled for early to mid-February.

Meanwhile, Mahindra has shelved tentative plans to build the 2- and 4-door models, known internally as TR20 and TR40, respectively, in Ohio.

In a telephone interview from Global’s headquarters in Alpharetta, GA, Daniel tells Ward’s he expects Mahindra to “make an investment and employ some Americans” when industry volumes begin to trend upward (that's nice of them).

Mahindra Appalachian Looks like a cross between a Daewoo and a Jeep.

To make the truck more appealing to U.S. consumers, its front end was restyled and now features “jewel-like qualities,” (yea right) adds Max Butler, Global vice president-marketing.

The truck will be powered by a 140-hp 2.2L 4-cyl. diesel engine with projected combined city-highway fuel-economy of 30 mpg (7.8 L/100 km). Available with 2-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, it also will feature a 6-speed automatic transmission and electronic stability control.

More than 300 dealers look forward to selling Mahindra vehicles.

“We’re thinking we can lease (the pickup) to small businesses,” The diesel engine likely will become a selling feature as gasoline prices increase.

Particularly enthusiastic about the prospects of Mahindra SUV expected to arrive in mid- to late-2010, Taylor also is buoyed by results of an AutoPacific study that says American consumers are warm to an Indian-brand vehicle. “It’s a world market and it’s on a roll,” he says (I guess if anything's cheap enough, American onsumers will be warm to it).

The study findings are consistent with Mahindra’s vision of a customer base that comprises “independent thinkers,” (the "stroke the American ego" tactic)Daniel says.
They don’t really care about what people think about what they’re driving,” he adds. “They’re influencers. They’re not followers. I think they’ll be out there with their kayaks, and they’ll be out hiking and doing all the things (like putting) surfboards on top in California.” (what a pile of b.s.).

The Toyota Tacoma, along with the Nissan Frontier and Dodge Dakota, are among the trucks Mahindra is targeting as direct competitors.

Daniel favors the Australian nameplate: Pik Up. “That hit me and I like it,” he says, promising Mahindra’s pricing strategy will “blow away” the segment.
However, Daniel does not reveal numbers.

Mahindra - a real off-road vehicle!


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Friday, July 10, 2009

GM Exits Bankruptcy, CEO Vows Better Performance

"Talking Head"?

A leaner and meaner General Motors arose on Friday, making an unusually quick exit from bankruptcy with ambitions of making money and building cars people are eager to buy.

Once the world's largest and most powerful automaker, the new GM is now cleansed of massive debt and burdensome contracts that would have sunk it without federal loans. The U.S. government owns a majority stake - although the Obama administration says it has no plans to run the automaker (I would give anything to see Obams's face coined on the hubcaps of the new models).

At a news conference, CEO Fritz Henderson said the new GM will be faster and more responsive to customers than the old one and it will make money and repay government loans faster than required.

Henderson said GM completed its 40-day stay under court supervision far faster than anyone thought it could. He said it would repay about $50 billion in government loans ahead of a 2015 deadline.

The new GM will also build more cars and trucks that consumers want and launch them faster than in the past, the CEO said. (I think the guy will probably say just about anything).

"We recognize that we've been given a rare second chance at GM, and we are very grateful for that. And we appreciate the fact that we now have the tools to get the job done," he said. Yada yada yada.

The new company arose from the ashes Friday as the bulk of General Motors Corp.'s assets were transferred to a company controlled by the U.S. government.

He said Bob Lutz, a legendary industry executive, was "unretiring" to become a vice chairman responsible for all creative elements of products, marketing and customer relationships. Lutz had previously planned to retire at the end of the year after more than four decades in the auto business. (oh God please help us).

The automaker is launching a "Tell Fritz" Web site to allow owners and the public to share their concerns with senior management and he planned to go out on the road every month, Henderson said. (The question is: will senior management actually hear the concerns? Yea right).

"Business as usual is over at General Motors."

"We need to listen to the questions, ideas and the concerns of the people who matter the most," Henderson said.

"We all want to win and we are going to win," Whitacre said.

The company's logo will emain blue with white underlined GM letters. Henderson said GM has no plans to change the background color to green. "It's not in my plans actually," he said. GM has considered the change to represent its new environmental focus.

* Even thinking of changing the GM logo color to green has to be the biggest suck-up to Pelosi so far from the GM execs. (I would probably throw-up something green).


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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Computers and GM

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated:

"If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon".

In response to Bill ' s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash........Twice a day.

2.. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single ' This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation ' warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask ' Are you sure? ' before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.

PS - I ' d like to add that when all else fails, you could call ' customer service ' in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!!!!

Good stuff!


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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Following is a college paper emailed to me and reprinted by permission. It cites this blog as an informational source. Scary.

Task Name:

SCI205-0902A-06 Environmental Science

Task Name: Phase 4 Individual Project
Deliverable Length: 2 pages


You have been assigned to a scientific commission whose mandate is to research ways of reducing air pollution from motor vehicles.

Your specific assignment is to research the types of alternative-fuel vehicles that are currently under development, examine the advantages and disadvantages of each, and decide which would have the least environmental impact.

* Electric
* Natural gas
* Hydrogen
* Fuel Cell

Use the Library and Internet to research each type of vehicle. Discuss the environmental and economic advantages and disadvantages of each type and select the one that, in your opinion, provides the best environmental impact at a reasonable cost. Provide evidence to support your selection.

Please submit your assignment.

Objective: Explain the importance of atmospheric pollution.

Submitted paper (probably an A):

Environmental Science

Phase 4 Individual Project


Results for the scientific commission from the research done on ways to reduce air pollution from motor vehicles: Research topics: Electric, Natural Gas and Hydrogen
Fuel Cell:

The first production motor vehicle designed to reduce air pollution was first sold in 1999 and was called the Honda Insight. The car achieved 61 mpg in the city and 70 mpg on the highway (About.com 2009). Called a “hybrid car”, it combines the best of an electric car with the best of a conventional gasoline burning car. A hybrid car reduces air pollution by using the power of the electric motor for initial starting and acceleration and switches over to the gasoline motor only when the car accelerates to a certain speed.

A hybrid car has been the first step toward the development of a totally electric car. An advantage of an electric car over a hybrid car is that the electric car produces zero emissions and is therefore cleaner that a gasoline hybrid car. Current electric car technology uses electrical power secured from the electrical grid to onboard batteries or from the sun. There are much fewer moving parts on an electric car which means fewer parts to wear out or break. Advantages of electric cars are primarily higher efficiency and lower emissions (Hybrid Cars 2009).

Some disadvantages of electric cars are limited driving range due to battery power limitations, long battery recharge times and high costs that come with the continual charging of the battery(s) that power the electric motor. Solar – electric cars have longer ranges due to batteries that are charged by the sun, but they are still dependant on batteries which have weight and size limitations. Disadvantages of electric cars have much to due with their range. Hybrid Cars (2009) states that today’s electric cars are limited to about 100 miles between charges. Once battery life is extended and recharge times improve, the electric car will be the technology used in cars of the future.

Compressed Natural gas is touted as the “cleanest burning alternative fuels available” (Gas 2.0 2009). This is because of the simplicity of the methane molecules in relation to fossil fuel molecules. The burn is smoother and reduces tailpipe emissions by 35 – 95%. Advantages to using CNG – ready vehicles are a significant reduction in greenhouse emissions as compared to gasoline vehicles and the fact that deposits of natural gas worldwide are almost infinite. Natural gas is also a renewable fuel with technology already developed to collect it from landfills. Gas 2.0 (2009) shares that landfill collected “bio-methane” could supply enough fuel for 11 million natural gas vehicles, or 5% of the U. S. fleet.

Disadvantages to using compressed natural gas consists mainly supply and distribution of both the vehicles and the fueling stations. The only CNG vehicle for sale to the public is the Honda Civic GX, and is only available for sale in New York and California. Gas 2.0 (2009), states that “Honda cannot build them fast enough”. Additionally, other than California, New York and Utah, it would be hard to find a refueling station for your CNG vehicle.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles or FCV’s are different from electric vehicles in that FCV’s create their own electricity onboard while EV’s store power in battery packs. This is a big advantage in weight reduction for the FCV. A fuel cell creates electricity by a chemical reaction between compressed hydrogen atoms and air from the outside. Power moves the car and the only byproduct is pure water which drips out the tailpipe (fueleconomy.gov 2009).

Disadvantages are similar to the compressed natural gas vehicles in that there is a shortage of FCV vehicles for sale and a shortage of re-filling stations. A main disadvantage also is the cost of producing the compressed pure hydrogen needed to power the vehicle. Producing pure hydrogen in a form needed to be used by an FCV, uses much electricity taken from the grid which was in part generated by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal. Once hydrogen can be manufactured without the damage to the environment, an FCV might be the vehicle of tomorrow.

My findings conclude that in the near future, electric cars will provide the biggest environmental gain at the most reasonable cost. Chevrolet (2009) announces the 2010 release of the Chevy VoltI. Unlike all other currently produced electric cars, the Volt has a “revolutionary propulsion system”. It has a 40 mile range on its electric battery and a gasoline engine to continue past that point. The average American does not drive over 40 miles in a day. With the Volt designed to “drive 75 % of America’s daily commuters without a drop of gas” (Auto Industry News 2009), General Motors should secure dominance of the next decade’s economy car market provided it fixes its financial problems. As the advertising slogan proclaims: Chevy Volt: Fully Charged 2010.


About.com (2009). The History of Hybrid Vehicles. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Auto Industry News (2009). Chevy volt. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Chevrolet (2009). Electric Cars. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

CTU Online. (Ed). (c. 2009). Phase 4 Multimedia Course Materials. Colorado Springs,
CO: CTU Online. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from CTU Online Virtual
Campus, SCI205-0902A-06, Environmental Science.

Fueleconomy.gov (2009). Fuel Cell Vehicles. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Gas 2.0 (2009). Natural Gas Cars CNG. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:

Hybrid Cars (2009). Hybrid Automobile FAQ. Retrieved on May 5, 2009 from:


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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Criticism of Tata Nano Outrageous, Wrong-Headed

??? Wrong Headed ???

By Drew Winter

A few weeks ago, a machine that will save tens of thousands of lives every year – many of them young children – officially went on sale in India, beginning a journey that promises to improve the living standard of millions of families in one of the world’s most impoverished nations.

And yet, many environmentalists who profess to be on a mission to save mankind are condemning this new device as an “environmental disaster” they would like to wish out of existence.

Chief U.N. climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who shared last year's Nobel Peace Prize, has said "I am having nightmares" about it. Many other groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also lament its debut.

What is this contraption that offers so much hope yet is so terrifying to some?
The Tata Nano, a tiny car with carbon-dioxide emissions of just 100 g/km and average fuel economy of 55 mpg (4.3 L/100 km)..

Priced at $2,500, it is the world’s cheapest car and designed specifically to give South Asia’s low-income families a safer, all-weather alternative to a motorcycle or scooter, currently the only “family car” millions can afford.

If you have ever seen a family of four or five or six, weaving through India’s chaotic traffic on a scooter, with infants and toddlers perched on the handlebars or hanging onto mom and dad for dear life, you can understand the momentous achievement the Nano represents.

Can't you just see 8 Indian people crammed into this thing?

India has the highest traffic-death rate in the world, exceeding 100,000 fatalities and more than 2 million serious injuries annually. That’s a worse toll than India suffers from AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, combined. A large percentage of these traffic deaths are motorcyclists who are so vulnerable in India’s undisciplined traffic.

Ask any Indian parent why they would take such safety risks, and they will say they would prefer to take their children to school in a car, but a motorbike is the only transportation they can afford.

Starting now, the Nano offers a safe, affordable alternative. Sales bookings began April 9, and demand is expected to far exceed supply.

It is exactly this popularity that critics from green groups – 100% of whom we can assume do not have to drive their children to school on a scooter – fear.

They are afraid the Nano will become so popular it will spark an industrial revolution, such as Henry Ford’s Model T did in the U.S.

In other words, demand for the Nano will soar; leading to more factories being built, creating more jobs, which in turn will create more demand for cars, accelerating India’s production of greenhouse gases.

The Nano will create progress. And by golly, that will be terrible.

Unfortunately, this contemptible viewpoint, spewed from comfortable middle-class lodgings in the U.S. and Western Europe, has not received the heaping dose of ridicule it deserves.

In the worst kind of cultural elitism imaginable, environmentalists argue that in their noble war on global warming, tens of thousands of traffic deaths annually in the developing world are acceptable casualties.
This is an utterly unacceptable position to take, no matter what.

The birth of the Nano is an historic event that needs to be celebrated, and environmentalists need to reevaluate their rhetoric and game plan (bastard environmentalists).

Otherwise, the world soon may decide the cure for global climate change is worse than the disease.


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Monday, March 30, 2009

Chrysler Faces Shotgun Marriage To Get Additional $6 Billion - Death Threat

Additional funds contingent on completion of Fiat deal

If the feds took a tough stand with GM in forcing Rick Wagoner to resign, Chrysler could be in for a dose of even stronger medicine.

As reported by the Detroit Free Press, the auto task force is willing to provide Chrysler with an additional $6 billion, but only if the company can complete the much-discussed alliance with Fiat by the end of April.

If Chrysler can’t come to terms with Fiat, Chrysler will be deemed non-viable and will get no additional government assistance.

Is she going to come with the deal?

The government’s requirements are to be formally announced sometime March 30.

The task force wasn’t satisfied with the restructuring plan Chrysler submitted Feb. 17.

In manufacturing productivity, it found Chrysler has not invested enough in common architectures and flexible capacity.

Under the proposed alliance, Fiat would own 35% of Chrysler and provide four small-car programs, two engines and two transmissions that are worth an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion.

The first Fiats would reach U.S. dealerships in 2011 (We can't wait).

If Chrysler and Fiat deliver what the task force requested, the administration will take steps that could help their alliance succeed. These include a government-funded program to back warranties of both Chrysler and GM, and a previously announced $5 billion in aid to assist the two automakers with payments to their suppliers.

Do you think it will be called FiatChrysler like DaimlerChrysler?


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Tata’s Nano to hit India’s streets in July 2009

Snub-nosed vehicles will be priced starting around $2,000

MUMBAI, India - The world’s cheapest car will retail for just over $2,000 and can be yours — if you live in India - and are very lucky. Tata Motors said on Monday.

The Nano, a pint-sized vehicle designed to make car ownership accessible to millions of the world’s poor, finally goes on sale in India next month. Whether it will revolutionize the global auto industry — or turn around its manufacturer’s fortunes — has yet to be seen, and other automakers will be watching closely to see how consumers respond to the car. So will environmentalists (of course, sigh, the environmentalists).

Here is the Nano showing some attitude!

Tata Motors unveiled the Nano Europa, a slightly more robust version of the Indian model, at the Geneva Motor Show this month, with a planned launch of 2011.

The company is now designing a version of the Nano that meets U.S. safety and emissions standards and should be ready for launch in about three years, Tata said.

The Nano, with a starting retail price of 112,735 rupees ($2,233) is a stripped-down car for stripped-down times: It is 10.2 feet (3.1 meters) long, has one windshield wiper, and a 623cc rear engine.

The four-seater can travel up to 65 miles an hour (105 kilometers an hour) and gets 55.5 miles to the gallon (23.6 kilometers per liter). The Nano does not have air bags or antilock brakes — neither of which is required in India — and if you want air conditioning or power windows, you’ll have to pay extra.

Tata said the car emits less carbon dioxide than most motorbikes.

Priced like a gadget or a piece of jewelry, the Nano will be sold not just at Tata car dealerships across India, but also online and at electronics and clothing shops owned by the Tata group of companies.

The "bra" is the first of an extensive line of accessories coming soon for the Tata Nano.

“It is a proper car,” said Hormazd Sorabjee, editor of Autocar India, a trade magazine. He said the designers made clever compromises to keep costs down, scrimping on the plushness of the seats, but offering a comfy suspension and ample interior space.

The Nano should make global automakers stop loading their cars with costly gadgets (and safety features) people don’t really want, he added.

“Finally, it’s going to make people realize they should be building cars that people need,” he said. “This is where multinationals have failed.”

Some automakers have already started following suit. Bajaj Auto, Renault and Nissan teamed up last year to make a car that wholesales for $2,500 in India by 2011.

Production of the Nano has been scaled back from initial targets — and the rollout has been delayed six months — because Tata Motors had to move its Nano factory from West Bengal to the business-friendly state of Gujarat. Violent protests by farmers and opposition political party leaders over land at the initial site forced the company to change plans.

Ya see - violent protests do work!

The new factory, which will be able to produce up to 500,000 cars a year, will open by year’s end, officials said. Until then, Tata Motors can only produce 50,000 cars a year from an existing plant in Pantnagar, in the northern Indian state of Uttaranchal.

Ratan Tata won’t speculate whether this is a Henry Ford moment for India. Ford famously paid his factory workers enough so that if they saved carefully, they’d be able to buy their own Model T.

The average salary at the Pantnagar factory is 150,000 rupees ($3,000) a year, company officials said. Ratan Tata said most workers there don’t even own motorbikes.

“We bus them to work everyday,” he said.



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Saturday, February 28, 2009

THE AUTO INDUSTRY BAILOUT - $11.6 Million Awarded to Alvaro de Molina - the CEO of GMAC

It's time I expressed my opinion about these CEO's and their compensation plans.

Who else thinks that if a company loses billions, the CEO should get NOTHING!!!

This makes me sick.

Auto financier GMAC LLC, the recipient of a $6 billion federal bailout in December, today said CEO Alvaro de Molina was awarded $11.62 million of compensation in 2008 -- which doubled his total compensation from 2007.

Package included $2.3 million in use of corporate jet.

De Molina was awarded a $1.2 million salary, $5.81 million of stock awards and $4.8 million of other compensation, offset by option awards of negative $194,000, reflecting the application of an accounting standard.

GMAC said de Molina's compensation was $4.93 million in 2007. He became CEO on Sept. 5 of that year.

GMAC has in recent quarters suffered operating losses in its auto and mortgage units, but in December won its government bailout, as well as bank holding company status that allows it to tap lower-cost funding.

GMAC reported de Molina's compensation in a summary table included in its annual report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Differing calculations:

Some pay consultants and governance experts tabulate executive pay differently, saying the summary total may be imperfect because it counts options and stock as part of pay when they vest rather than when they are awarded.

About $2.26 million of de Molina's compensation came from the use of corporate aircraft. GMAC said it no longer provides aircraft for business or personal use.

The bailout required private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management LP and General Motors to slash their respective 51 percent and 49 percent stakes in the Detroit-based lender.

AFI's take on this:

A MONKEY could come in as the CEO and cause a company to lose billions of dollars. What do we need these people for?

Actually, I am glad that the public is becomming more aware of this insanity. Maybe if we makes enough noise, things could change for the future.

Oh well, Obama is the President. The waters will recede and all will be made whole.


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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Thing Of Beauty.

When Hugh Hefner first asked out singer Barbi Benton, she supposedly said, "I've never been out with anyone over 24." "Neither have I," Hef replied.

We should all be so lucky...

When it comes to cars, however, it's easier to get fired up over mature's curves. Contemporary rides are obviously miles ahead in terms of power, handling, gas mileage, and technology. But they lack the intangible mojo that made these landmark vehicles timeless. Here are 10 classic American cars that left a permanent mark on the automotive industry.


1953 Chevrolet Corvette - 1953 Chevrolet Corvette

The only sports car worth owning.

What began in 1953 as a slow performer in the showrooms and on the street soon gained momentum and V8 power, and it evolved into an American icon. To desire a 'Vette is only human. To own one is to belong to a family as passionate for their cars as any you'll find. Each generation of Corvette has been better than the last, and all represent passion molded in fiberglass.

Cool Fact: Red is the color we usually associate with the 'Vette, but in 1953, white was the only color offered.

Is she really all that? Post a coment:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Flying Car the 'Ultimate Hybrid' Goes to Market

Prepare for Takeoff

A Boston-area company plans to begin flight tests this year of a two-seater airplane that moonlights as a car.

The aptly named "Transition" takes a stab at bridging the gap between automobiles and airplanes. Some people call it a flying car. The company designing and selling the vehicle prefers the term "roadable aircraft."

Either way, it boils down to this: You sit down behind the steering wheel, drive to the runway, unfold two wings and take off. You can fly 500 miles on a tank of gas -- regular unleaded -- and when you land, you simply fold up the wings and drive where you want to go. At the end of the day, you fly back, drive home and park inside your garage.

Terrafugia, of Woburn, Mass., is not the first firm to attempt what may be the ultimate hybrid.


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Announcing the 2010 Ford Taurus

My first new car (and negative car buying experience) was a 1989 Ford Taurus. I loved that car.

Oh well,

More convincing is needed to get me to switch from Infiniti.


See 2010 Ford Taurus Photos:

The lines are crisp, the roofline looks sleek, and the wide stance of the wheels gives the car a performance-oriented feeling. If you weren't standing inside the Ford booth at the Detroit Auto Show, you'd think you were looking a new luxury car -- probably an import -- not the all-new, full-size 2010 Ford Taurus.

No Taurus in recent memory ever looked this good, and the transformation is welcomed because 2008-2009 Taurus isn't a great looking car. Knowing this truth, Ford decided to do something drastic.

The all-new design is decidedly upscale. There's not a hint of the dowdy old style to be found. The exterior style is dominated by a sculpted hood, pronounced front fenders, and character line that runs front to back ending at the tall trailing edge of the rear fenders.

Inside, a forward-leaning center control cluster clearly makes the new Taurus a five-seater. New production techniques have yielded better looking and richer feeling dash and door coverings. As evidenced in recently introduced models, Ford knows how to craft high-quality and visually pleasing interiors. Panel gaps and materials appear on par with luxury cars.

See 2010 Ford Taurus Photos:

Even though the Taurus is a full-size car, the amount of passenger room still surprised us. The adjective "huge" comes to mind. The trunk, thanks to the high profile of the rear fenders and the tall deck, is likewise enormous. Back in the days of drive-in movies, it would have been easy to fit three stow-aways back there with room for soda and chips.

The 2010 Ford Taurus should have the moves to match its trimmer more athletic looks. The mechanicals are based on the Lincoln MKS, a capable performance sedan. The standard engine is a refined 3.5-liter V-6 (also used in the Lincoln), generating an estimated 263 horsepower. Along with earning ULEV-II emissions certification front-wheel-drive Taurus (all-wheel drive is optional) is expected to deliver unsurpassed highway fuel economy in the class, but Ford hasn't yet released mpg estimates.

Every Taurus will be equipped with a six-speed automatic. On SEL and Limited models (the SE is the base model), the transmission will feature paddle shifters on the steering wheel, a manual shift mode, and rev-matching downshifts deliver a sportier driving experience.

Compared to the outgoing model, the chassis components under the 2010 Taurus should provide sportier ride dynamics. Ford engineers promise more roll stiffness and more responsive steering. Like the MKS, the new Ford uses struts up front and multi-link, fully-independent arrangement in the rear.


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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hyundai: If You Can't Make The Payments? Just Return It

by Dan Strumph

Can't make the payments on that new car you just bought? No problem -- just return it free of charge.

At least that's the deal being offered by Hyundai Motor America. In a bid to woo skittish consumers, the South Korea-based automaker will cover the depreciation on any returned leased or financed vehicle for the first 12 months to those who find themselves unable to make their car payments.

An excellent promotion. It is as exciting as Hyundai's 10 year / 100,000 mile warranty.

"We're seeing people who are stuck," said Joel Ewanick, vice president marketing for Hyundai Motor America, in an interview. "Really they have a mental fatigue and they're really nervous about their long-term financial situation, so we started working on that side of it."

Deadbeats need not apply, however. The "Hyundai Assurance Program" only applies to customers stricken by misfortune outside of their control, such as losing their job, becoming disabled or losing their driver's license for medical reasons.

Customers must also have made at least two payments on the car already. In addition, Hyundai will only refund the depreciation on the returned car up to $7,500.

"For the normal person, this should cover any normal depreciation in the first year," Ewanick said.

After the first 12 months, customers have the option of extending the program for a fee through their dealership. Customers who pay cash for their car don't qualify for the program, Hyundai said.

Hyundai, which launched the program on Friday, said the program is aimed at consumers too nervous to spring for a new car in the difficult economy. The slump in consumer confidence has been one of the biggest factors behind the collapse in new vehicle sales in 2008.

For this reason, traditional incentive tactics, like low-interest financing or cash bonuses, have been much less effective in boosting sales recently, Ewanick said. Economic anxiety -- rather than cost -- has been the biggest factor holding consumers back from big-ticket purchases.

"This is a recession of fear, a recession of confidence," he said. "It's much more severe than what we saw in the early '90s."

Hyundai said Monday its December sales in the U.S. fell 48 percent to 24,037 from 46,487. Sales for all of 2008 declined 14 percent.


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