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September 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Want to feel validated for owning a Honda? Visit our new website.

Categories: auto, news

10 Things Your Car Will Have By 2020

August 23, 2011 Leave a comment

The 1980s classic film, Back to the Future, depicts a future with flying cars and “skyways.” The year: 2015. We don’t have a time machine, but we can guarantee that in four years we’ll still be using earthbound roads.

And we peered a little further into the future of automotive technology — to 2020, to be exact — to see what features are likely to be big sellers.

Safety will always be a top concern, and car companies will continue to develop technology to help reduce accidents. Government mandates to increase fuel economy and reduce pollution will lead to smaller, less thirsty vehicles, with a high percentage of electrified vehicles on the road. And you’ll likely be able to tell your car to check your Facebook page.

1. Warnings Galore

Your car won’t drive itself, but its technology will help make you a safer driver. For example, current collision-mitigation systems use radar to sense when you’re getting too close, going too fast, and give you a visual and auditory warning.

They then either “precharge” your brakes to give them more power when you step on the brake pedal or — like some systems from Hyundai, Lexus and Mercedes — tighten your seat belts and automatically apply the brakes. Prices run $1,200 to $1,500 now, but the systems may be included in more-expensive option packages.

Lane-departure warning systems and blind-spot monitoring systems use cameras and radar to determine whether you’re straying from your lane or about to move into a lane that’s occupied. Infiniti’s latest system combines the two and will steer you back into your lane. Each system costs $500 to $700 as a stand-alone option, but they are often packaged together.

Expect to see such safety monitoring systems become standard on upscale models and optional on all but the cheapest vehicles. Prices for systems that aren’t standard equipment will drop from a grand or two to a few hundred dollars.

2. Eyes All Around

Rearview cameras are likely to become standard equipment, thanks to a proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that would require all light passenger vehicles to have the technology by 2014.

The additional cost by the deadline will likely be $50 or less for vehicles equipped with displays (such as a navigation screen) and about $150 for those without one. By 2020, however, the cost will be negligible.

More technologically advanced cameras will be widely standard or inexpensive options (a few hundred dollars). Cross-path cameras, like those from Ford, Chrysler and BMW, show a 180-degree view from the back or front of your vehicle and alert you if another car is approaching as you back up or pull out of a blind drive.

Infiniti’s Around View monitor gives you a 360-degree view, using a computer to stitch together four camera feeds. The cost of camera systems varies widely, but expect to pay at least $1,000 — the full complement on BMW’s 5 and 7 series cars costs $1,200, and Infiniti’s Around View is available only in a $2,500 option package.

3. Pedestrian Detection and Night Vision

A pedestrian-detection system, such as the one on Volvo’s S60, brings the car to a full stop if it detects a pedestrian in your path; if you’re going faster than 22 miles per hour, the vehicle won’t be able to stop fast enough to avoid hitting the pedestrian. (The automakers City Safety feature works the same way for a car that stops short in front of you.)

Night-vision systems, like the ones BMW and Mercedes are offering on their top-of-the-line vehicles, detect infrared light or amplify available light to help you see a person who wanders into your intended path but is out of range of your headlights.

Right now, both systems are pricey options. Volvo’s Technology Package, which includes pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning and collision warning with full automatic braking, is $2,100. BMW’s Night Vision with Pedestrian Detection is $2,600. But in the future, these systems will be standard on high-end vehicles and available on more-mainstream vehicles for a grand or less.

4. Easy Cruising

Adaptive cruise control uses radar to help you keep a safe distance from the car in front as you cruise at highway speeds so that you don’t have to constantly hit the brakes and reset your cruising speed.

Currently, it’s optional on BMW’s cars ($2,400) and on Audi’s A4 ($2,100); it’s available on mainstream cars like the Ford Taurus ($1,200), too.

By 2020, it will be a nearly ubiquitous option and a standard feature on all top-of-the-line vehicles. It will likely evolve to work at low speeds and help you avoid collisions in stop-and-go traffic, much like Volvo’s City Safe feature.

5. Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications

Wouldn’t it be nice if cars could talk to each other in order to avoid accidents?

In the future, they will. Ford is currently engineering an intelligent vehicle system that uses advanced Wi-Fi technology; it transmits your vehicle’s location and recognizes other vehicles surrounding you.

The system will warn you of an oncoming car when you’d like to pass a vehicle on a country road, or alert you to a car about to blow through a red light, or tell you when a vehicle several cars ahead has stopped short. This technology will be available as an option by the end of the decade, although it’ll be much longer before it’s standard. Because the concept is so new, there’s no way to estimate what it will cost.

6. A Better Way to Connect

Finding your way, finding your music and finding your friends will continue to get easier. Bluetooth will be standard at every level, and pairing your phone with the hands-free system will be much less complicated.

A voice prompt will be all you’ll need to make a call or change the song. Likewise, widely standard in-car communications systems, such as Ford’s Sync, will read incoming text messages. If you have a built-in navigation system, you’ll easily be able to speak destinations or ask the system to find a stop along your route. More systems will work like Ford’s MyFord Touch (available now on the Edge and Focus models for about $1,000).

For example, you can ask “What’s playing?” to hear the song title and artist, or say “I’m hungry” to get a list of restaurant choices nearby. Many more carmakers will offer this technology, and the price tag will come down.

7. App Central

In-car Wi-Fi is available now from General Motors for a few hundred dollars, plus a monthly subscription fee, and widespread rollout is imminent.

That means surfing the Web on the way to work will probably be par for the course by 2020. And despite government concerns about distracted driving, it’s a good bet that apps for Pandora radio, Facebook and Twitter will soon be standard fare in your infotainment system.

The systems will rely on voice commands. GM has already started testing audio Facebook updates through its revamped OnStar communications link. Toyota’s Entune system, previewed at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, also responds to voice commands and can use the driver’s smart phone to bring apps such as OpenTable, MovieTickets.com and Bing to the dashboard.

8. Fuel-Sipper Tech

President Obama’s latest fuel-economy proposal calls for an industry-wide average of up to 62 miles per gallon by 2025, so look for automakers to embrace fuel savings wherever they can.

To get to the 62 mpg mark, experts estimate it will require widespread electrification, adding up to $10,000 to the cost of a new vehicle. Regenerative brakes, which recharge the battery when you step on the brake pedal, will be standard equipment for gas-engine as well as hybrid vehicles. A stop/start feature, similar to that on today’s hybrids, will become standard for gas-engine vehicles, improving fuel economy by up to 10%.

When your vehicle is stopped, such as at a light or in heavy traffic, the system turns off the engine and restarts it when you take your foot off the brake. Ford will begin offering this on some vehicles next year.

So-called economy modes, like those on the Honda Civic and Hyundai Sonata, will be standard fare, too. Selecting the econ mode on the Civic, for example, improves fuel efficiency by making throttle response more gradual, altering shifting slightly for automatic-transmission models, and modifying the climate control.

9. Advanced Engines

Hybrids will become a much bigger percentage of cars sold, as will “mild” hybrids, such as Buick’s LaCrosse with eAssist, which uses a small lithium ion battery to power a stop/start system and regenerative brakes. The remaining gas-engine models will rely on turbocharging and direct-injection.

Engine size will be a factor, as well. Ford’s newest EcoBoost engine is a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder with direct injection that will offer up to 20% better fuel economy than a traditional four-cylinder with the same amount of power. (No pricing is available yet for the three-cylinder engine, but on the 2011 Ford Flex, the six-cylinder EcoBoost engine costs $3,000 more than the regular one.)

You’ll also see transmissions with more gears, which will help improve fuel economy by up to 6%. Eight speeds is the new six.

10. Exotic Materials

Making cars lighter is one way that automakers can meet higher mileage standards. So instead of high-strength steel and aluminum, carmakers are looking at carbon fiber, the strong, durable and ultralight material found in tennis rackets, bicycles and even airplanes.

Lightweight carbon fiber pieces will be featured on many upscale vehicles, like BMW’s forthcoming line of electric cars, which will hit the road in 2013. Although manufacturing the material is costly now, prices will come down as advances in manufacturing are made. Using carbon fiber to reduce weight could improve fuel economy by 7%.

By Jessica Anderson of Kiplinger

Categories: auto, news

U.S. Auto Thefts Fall to Lowest Since 1967 on 7.2% Drop in 2010

U.S. vehicle thefts dropped to the lowest since 1967, falling for a seventh straight year as more cars were equipped with security devices and police tactics helped deter thieves, an insurance industry group said.

Thefts probably declined 7.2 percent last year from 794,616 in 2009, according to preliminary figures released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. The New York City region, Dallas, Los Angeles, Detroit and Miami were among 257 urban areas reporting fewer thefts, the non-profit trade group said, citing FBI data.

Insurers including Allstate Corp. (ALL) and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. offer discounts to customers who use anti-theft devices. In addition to built-in security features, NICB recommends manufacturer-installed products such as LoJack Corp. tracking devices and Ravelco ignition disablers.

“Technology both on the manufacturing end and what comes out of the automakers is a lot better than it was,” Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for Des Plaines, Illinois-based NICB, said in an interview. “Even on the baseline vehicle today, it’s harder to steal than in 2000.”

Auto thefts in the New York City area, including northern New Jersey and Long Island, fell 1.9 percent to 29,189. The region had the 198th-highest-rate of 366 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, compared with 223rd in 2009. State College, Pennsylvania, had the lowest rate for the second straight year with 46 thefts, or 30 per 100,000 people.

Bait Programs

Car thefts in Dallas declined 14.5 percent in 2010 to 21,963, or 345 thefts per 100,000 people, the NICB said. Police use “bait programs” in which officers leave cars unlocked, often with the keys still in the ignition, to tempt would-be thieves. The tactic has helped reduce thefts, said Sgt. Robert Benitez of the Dallas Police Department.

Fresno, California — one of eight regions in the state among the top 10 places for car snatching — had the highest rate of theft. The Fresno area, in central California, had 7,559 thefts, or 812 per 100,000 people, the NICB said.

Law-enforcement efforts are hobbled by insufficient capacity at the county jail resulting from staff shortages, said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

“Individuals we arrest for the crime of auto theft are being booked into jail and released, generally the same day,” he said in an interview. “It is not uncommon for us to arrest the same person for auto theft multiple times in one week.”

Sgt. Eddie Perez of California’s Delano Police Department, in the Southern California region with the third-highest rate of car thefts, said more automobile owners should take basic precautions.

“The simplest, the easiest and the most cost-effective is really just to lock the thing,” Scafidi said. “I know that sounds kind of elementary, but there are lots of vehicles that are stolen every year because people make it easy on the thief.”

 

via Bloomberg

Categories: auto, news, safety

Outlander Sport shows Mitsubishi is driven to compete

Outlander Sport shows Mitsubishi is driven to compete
The value-priced five-seat crossover mixes fun driving in comfort with eco-friendly attributes. The Outlander family now accounts for a third of the company’s sales.

By Susan Carpenter, Los Angeles Times

The relative rarity of Mitsubishi cars these days confirms the company’s status as an underdog automaker. Mitsubishi ranks sixth out of the seven Japanese manufacturers in U.S. sales, just ahead of Suzuki.

But through the first five months of 2011, sales have increased an astounding 61% versus the same period last year, making it the fastest-growing mass-market automaker in the U.S. Much of the growth is due to its newest model, the 2011 Outlander Sport. The Outlander family now accounts for almost one-third of the company’s sales.

The 2011 Outlander Sport demonstrates Mitsubishi’s embrace of a fun-to-drive, eco-friendly mandate as it presses ahead into the 21st century after a decade of turmoil that saw the company separate from Chrysler, then suffer through vehicle defects and a consumer financing fiasco.

Starting at $19,275, the Outlander Sport is a value-oriented crossover that’s priced to move the company into the future.

It’s also a crossover that strives to play off the name recognition of its older, seven-seat sibling, the Outlander SUV. The five-passenger Sport is just smaller. Although the height and width are similar and the wheelbase is exactly the same on both cars, it’s as if an X-acto knife sliced off the excess on the Outlander’s front and rear ends, shortening the car almost 15 inches and lightening the load by more than 200 pounds.

Designed to carry more things than people, the Sport does away with the Outlander’s third row of seats in favor of cargo space. A snubbed front end also offers off-roaders and mountain-goers a better incline angle going uphill.

I was testing the top-of-the-line version of the Sport, the SE. It was equipped with a premium package that upgraded the standard 16-inch wheels to 18s, among other things. The Sport is available in two trims, the base model ES with two-wheel drive, and the SE with either two- or all-wheel drive. My SE tester was all-wheel drive; it had the option of switching between two-wheel drive, and part- or full-time four-wheel drive with the help of a knob just south of the gear shift.

Driving in two-wheel drive would have saved me a few bucks in gas, but L.A. is riddled with potholes. So, even though potholes are the only inclement condition SoCal drivers are likely to experience this June, I kept the car in part-time four-wheel drive most of the time in case I needed to perform a radical swerve.

The all-wheel-drive Sport SE gets an estimated 26 miles per gallon combined, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s decent for a car of this capacity, and also surprising considering its flat and wide front end. Like many new cars, aerodynamics have been optimized on the Sport, most notably around the side-view mirrors.

The Sport is powered with a 2-liter, inline-four-cylinder engine. On the SE, the transmission is continuously variable and, for those who take the car’s name to heart, equipped with paddle shifters. For those who don’t, there’s an Eco lamp that rewards drivers with a green light on the dashboard whenever they’re driving like a member of the Sierra Club.

Borrowing some technology from the automaker’s soon-to-be-released, pure battery electric vehicle called the Mitsubishi i, the Sport is equipped with a regenerative alternator that harnesses kinetic energy when the car is slowing and feeds it back into the battery to power accessories.

Mitsubishi is best known in the U.S. as an automaker, but it is also an electronics company. That resume is apparent in the car’s tastefully understated driver controls and embrace of LED lighting. Many of its dials are awash in a faint orange glow, including the edges of the panoramic sunroof in the car I was testing.

Electronics did not, however, make their way into the controls for the seat, which need to be positioned by hand. Since most people are the sole drivers of their cars and won’t need to adjust their seats daily, these manual controls are hardly a deal-breaker.

A direct competitor of the Kia Sportage and Hyundai Tucson, the Outlander Sport is another value offering in the expanding crossover category — one that offers an impressive number of features for its price point. Even on the Outlander Sport ES base model, steering wheel audio controls and Bluetooth are standard. Sirius Satellite Radio, a 710-watt stereo and the 40-gigabyte navigation system with rear-view camera are, of course, extra.

Although the Outlander Sport can be made more luxurious with factory options, it is, at its core, not as rudimentary as its base price would indicate. It’s fairly quiet, it handles well and it’s comfortable.

Mitsubishi, welcome back to the fold.

Categories: auto, business, news

Automotive Black Boxes, Minus the Gray Area

Update 5:30 p.m. May 24: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will require that all new vehicles have an event data recorder. The agency is at this point only considering such a requirement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will later this year propose a requirement that all new vehicles contain an event data recorder, known more commonly as a “black box.” The device, similar to those found in aircraft, records vehicle inputs and, in the event of a crash, provides a snapshot of the final moments before impact.

That snapshot could be viewed by law enforcement, insurance companies and automakers. The device cannot be turned off, and you’ll probably know little more about it than the legal disclosure you’ll find in the owner’s manual.

The proposal looks to some like a gross overreach of government authority, or perhaps an effort by Uncle Sam, the insurance industry and even the automakers to keep tabs on what drivers are doing. But if you’re driving a car with airbags, chances are there’s already one of these devices under your hood.

Automakers have long installed electronic data recorders in their automobiles, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has since late 2006 required automakers to tell consumers about the devices. That federal rule also outlines what information is recorded and stipulates that it be used to increase vehicle safety.

Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering a proposal that would “expand the availability and future utility of EDR data” — in other words, a possible requirement that all automobiles have the devices. The proposal is expected sometime this year. A separate discussion would outline exactly what data would be collected.

Both proposals follow rules adopted in 2006, and how they affect you depends upon where you live and what data points it records. How much it will affect you in the future may depend on a new set of standards that spell out exactly what data is collected and who can access it.

An Incomplete Record
On August 17, 2002, two teenage girls in Pembroke Pines, Florida, died when their vehicle was struck by a Pontiac Firebird Firehawk driven by Edwin Matos. The girls were backing out of their driveway; investigators accessed the vehicle’s data recorder and discovered Matos had been traveling 114 mph in a residential area moments before impact.

Matos was convicted on two counts of manslaughter, but his lawyer appealed the admission of the data recorder evidence, arguing it may have malfunctioned because the car had been extensively modified. The attorney also argued the evidence was based on an evolving technology. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the conviction, however, establishing precedent in that state that data gleaned from event data recorders is admissible in court.

There are two important facts to note in this case. First, Matos was driving in Florida, one of 37 states with no statutes barring the disclosure of such data. While car companies initially claimed ownership of the data, courts eventually ruled that it belongs to vehicle owners and lessees. No federal laws govern access to black box data, and state laws eventually clarified how much data other parties could access.

“The state statutes, starting with one in California, arose out of consumer complaints about insurance companies getting the data without the vehicle owner even knowing that the data existed or had been accessed,” said Dorothy Glancy, a lawyer and professor at Santa Clara Law with extensive experience studying issues of privacy and transportation.

In most of the 13 other states, however, Matos’ black box data still would have been available to police officers armed with a warrant.

“Law enforcement generally has access to the data,” Glancy said.

The second important fact is that, though the court denied Matos’ appeal, the question of the data’s validity remained. Most manufacturers currently use proprietary systems that require specialized interpretation, and many individual event data recorders do not survive crashes intact. Other courts have ruled against the admission of the data.

Setting a Standard

The lack of uniformity concerns Tom Kowalick. He chairs the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers P1616 Standards Working Group on Motor Vehicle Event Data Recorders, one of three panels aiming to set universal standards for event data recorders (EDR).

“Until recently, there has been no industry-standard or recommended practice governing EDR format, method of retrieval, or procedure for archival,” Kowalick said. “Even for a given automaker, there may not be standardized format. This lack of standardization has been an impediment to national-level studies of vehicle and roadside crash safety.”

Standards proposed in 2008 would ensure that data once available only to automakers IS publicly accessible. The new standards would make accessibility universal and prevent data tampering such as odometer fraud.

“It also addresses concerns over privacy rights by establishing standards protecting data from misuse,” Kowalick said.

The standards also propose specific guidelines and technology to prevent the modification, removal or deactivation of an event data recorder.

Those regulations would, in theory, make black box data more reliable than what is currently collected. But they also would prevent drivers from controlling the collection of information — information that they own.

“I am not sure why consumers would want a system in their vehicles that they could not control,” Glancy said.

For What Purpose?

Before shunning new cars and buying a 1953 MG TD to avoid secret tracking devices, it helps to see how the information gleaned from event data recorders is used.

General Motors has been a leader in event data recorder technology, installing them in nearly all vehicles with airbags since the early 1990s. It currently installs Bosch EDRs in all vehicles sold in North America. The technology has evolved and now collects as many as 30 data points, said Brian Everest, GM’s senior manager of field incidents.

“In the early ’90s we could get diagnostic data, seatbelt use and crash severity,” Everest said. “Currently, we can get crash severity, buckle status, precrash data related to how many events the vehicle may have been in and brake application.”

The newest vehicles also can determine steering input and whether lane departure warning systems were turned on.

That info is invaluable in determining how a car responds in a crash. With a vehicle owner or lessee’s permission, crash investigators with access to the data pass on the EDR records to GM, which can determine whether vehicle systems or driver error contributed to an accident. They also can discover what vehicle systems and technologies prevented serious injuries or death.

“It’s about trying to understand what a particular system’s performance did before a crash,” Everest said.

In addition to helping a manufacturer prevent future crashes or injuries, it can also help in defending an automaker against claims of vehicle defects.

“In a great many cases, we can use data to understand whether it had any merit to it or not,” Everest said.

Sometimes the information vindicates an automaker, such as in the case of Toyota’s recent unintended acceleration debacle. Investigators could look directly at vehicle inputs to determine what occurred in each case. In other cases — a problem with unintended low-speed airbag deployment in a 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier, for example — the data reveals a legitimate vehicle defect and leads to a recall being issued.

Safety In The Future

While automakers might like to examine every aspect of a crash, there comes a point where too much data would overload researchers and the relatively inexpensive computers used in vehicles. The last thing car makers — or consumers — want is to increase the price of a vehicle to pay for super-sophisticated event data recorders.

“We’re definitely supportive of additional data,” Everest said. “The drawback on parameters is that you want to understand how it would affect the system,” balancing the need for data with the computing power available from a low-cost EDR.

Other concerns involve law enforcement access to enhanced electronic data recorders or whether dealers or insurance companies could use that data to deny or support claims.

“It usually depends on state law whether they need a subpoena or a warrant,” Glancy said. “Lots of data just gets accessed at the crash scene or the tow yard, as I understand actual practice.”

Whether that information was accessed and interpreted by a trained professional would determine how it held up in court. Insurance companies’ access and use of the data would again be up to state law, said Glancy.

Several insurance companies contacted by Wired.com declined to comment on the issue, but Leah Knapp, a spokesperson for Progressive Insurance, offered that company’s policy. “Our position on EDRs is that we would only use that data in a claims investigation with customer consent or if we’re required to do so by law,” she said. Knapp stressed that manufacturer-installed EDRs are different than incentive programs run by insurance companies that offer a discount for customers who voluntarily install monitoring devices on their vehicles.

Though dealers have access to EDR records, Everest said he knew of no instance where the information was used to void a warranty claim by proving that a customer abused a vehicle.

“Automakers have a duty to warn vehicle owners about safety recalls and the like,” Glancy said. “But you would have to look at the particular warranty to see what would be covered and what would not.” Still, she said she’d “expect that they would” eventually be able to access such data.

It comes down to a balancing act between an individual’s right to privacy and automakers’ need for data to determine the cause of a crash, between the need for a robust reporting system and the computing power available, between state interests in protecting consumers and insurance companies. Whether that balance tilts in favor of drivers remains to be seen — but at least EDR standards ensure a level starting point.

Via Wired

Photo: Chris Yarzab/Flickr

Categories: auto, insurance, news

New Car Taxes Would Hurt Sales, Cost Jobs

April 29, 2011 Leave a comment

April 12, 2011|By ART SCHALLER JR., The Hartford Courant

The state faces its greatest budget crisis since 1991, when then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. proposed adoption of the state income tax as the solution to Connecticut’s fiancial issues. Twenty years later, we are facing the same basic issue, spending is outstripping the state’s revenue structure. The question is: Can we finally get it right?

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and our General Assembly have a tough job ahead. They have to balance the budget. We agree with the governor, “Don’t kick the can down the road.” Otherwise, we would have to come back next year and fix a hole in the budget because spending again outpaced faulty revenue estimates. Let’s get it right the first time. Don’t make things worse, however, with deficits and job losses due to poor tax policy.

The proposed new taxes on automobile sales will tax the value of a trade-in vehicle that consumers use for a down payment on a new car, raise the sales tax to 9.25 percent on every dollar more than $50,000 paid for a car or truck and tax coupon price discounts as part of the sale price. Our association’s estimates suggest that these new taxes will actually reduce the state’s tax revenue rather than increase it. These proposals are bad ideas and are not well thought out.

Clearly these tax increases would make Connecticut auto dealers less competitive with our neighboring states. These proposals are shortsighted — and will result in fewer cars being sold and serviced in our state, causing the state to lose approximately $112 million in sales and income taxes and forcing more than 700 layoffs in Connecticut dealerships.

These new taxes equate to losses for Connecticut, not gains. These new taxes will increase the cost of a car loan and force most consumers to come up with more cash to qualify for a car loan. Because New York , Massachusetts and Rhode Island all wisely have avoided these types of taxes, consumers will save more than $1,000 in car payments just by going out of state to purchase a car. The unintended consequences of these new taxes will be to cause a Connecticut consumer credit crisis, killing in-state sales of cars and trucks.

Maine tried this a number of years ago and its legislature quickly came back into special session to repeal the mistaken taxes when revenue plummeted. From 2007 to 2010, auto sales in Connecticut crashed from $9 billion to $6.6 billion largely because of the credit crisis, which drove the cost of car loans up so much that consumers stopped buying. The state lost hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax, nearly 3,000 jobs in auto retailing and 80 small car dealers went out of business.

Connecticut car taxes mean Connecticut loses. The state loses revenue, the employees who sell and service cars lose their jobs. Connecticut consumers lose by being taxed twice on the same car and by losing affordable credit and car payments.

Let me suggest a solution that works. National economists predict vehicle sales for the U.S. in 2011 will hit more than 12 million, a level not been seen for almost three years due to the recession and tight credit. If Connecticut makes the right decision and leaves the trade-in allowance in place and holds off on imposing a 9.25 percent incremental sales tax on higher priced vehicles, Connecticut new car sales will easily reach pre-recession levels. As sales increase, so will state sales tax revenues — far exceeding the estimated $40 million raised in the budget by these new auto taxes. Let Connecticut dealers sell cars to help balance the budget and preserve jobs and job growth.

Art Schaller Jr. is chairman of the Connecticut Automotive Retailers Association and president of Schaller Auto World.

Categories: auto, finance, news

HF Model Joins Honda Civic Line For 2012

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Honda will offer a new HF (High Fuel economy) model of the redesigned 2012 Civic when it goes on sale this spring. The Civic HF will have an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 41 mpg. The higher fuel economy Civic is similar to the models offered by Chevrolet and Ford in the form of the Cruze Eco and Fiesta SFE. The Civic HF will be powered by Honda’s 1.8-liter i-VTEC engine.

The Civic Hybrid will also receive a boost in fuel economy with the new model. Honda is expecting the combined city/highway rating to improve by 4 mpg to 45 mpg. It has a larger 1.5-liter i-VTEC gasoline engine and new lithium-ion battery pack. Both the Civic HF and Civic Hybrid feature aerodynamic modifications and use Honda’s ECO Assist technology to help the driver operate the car more efficiently.

All ninth generation Honda Civic models will benefit from improved fuel economy. The standard Civic Sedan and Coupe pick up 3 mpg on the highway, bringing their EPA number up to 39 mpg highway. The 2012 Civic NG natural gas model, which will available in all 50 states for the first time, will have a 7-percent increase in fuel economy compared to the 2011 model. Finally, the sporty Si performance model has a more powerful engine producing 200 horsepower and 170 lb-ft of torque yet increases by 2 mpg to earn 31 mpg on the highway.

via Vehix

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