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Archives for the Category: Other Car News

Buffett Buys in to Auto Industry

The billionaire investor, Warren Buffett, has made his debut in the auto industry by agreeing to buy America’s fifth largest auto retailer with plans to buy more dealerships over time.

The billionaire investor on Thursday agreed to buy America’s fifth-largest auto retailer and use it to launch a consolidation of the highly fragmented business.

His Berkshire Hathaway Inc. would acquire an about $8 billion retail business with operations from Florida to California, and use it to snap up family-owned dealerships elsewhere. The retailer, which will be named Berkshire Hathaway Automotive, can leverage Berkshire’s other companies to provide car sales, financing and related services.

he move comes as car-retailing is poised to undergo significant changes that provide greater efficiencies. Dealer profits have been rising as auto makers culled less financially stable businesses during last decade’s financial crisis. Customers also have embraced the Web to shop for cars, cutting dealer overhead costs.

“We’re certainly thinking big and would like to grow the business,” said Jeff Rachor, president of Phoenix-based Van Tuyl Group, which Berkshire agreed to acquire in an all-cash deal. The purchase price wasn’t disclosed.

Mr. Rachor, who will become Berkshire Hathaway Automotive’s chief executive, said the new company intends to pursue dealer acquisitions in the South and Midwest where Van Tuyl already has stores, relying on its new owner’s deep pockets. He estimated there are about 5,000 dealerships that have the scale that match its acquisition goals.

Van Tuyl, a closely held business that was founded in Kansas City nearly 60 years ago, owns dealerships that now sell about 240,000 vehicles a year. The company has been controlled by Larry Van Tuyl, the founder’s son who will become chairman of the new business.

Read the full story here.

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Brands that Dominate North American Car and Truck of the Year Short List

It may not come as a surprise that the these four popular car brands – VW, Ford, GM and Toyota – are dominating the North American Car and Truck of the Year short list.

Volkswagen Group of America has four vehicles in the running for North American Car and Truck of the Year awards.

The 10 cars and 12 trucks on the 57-member jury’s short list also include three each from Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. The list of nominees will be reduced to three cars and three trucks in December, with a winner from each category revealed in January at the Detroit auto show.

No vehicles from the BMW, Cadillac or Kia brands made the short list, despite having multiple eligible nameplates. The awards recognize the best vehicles that are “new or substantially changed” in the past year, according to the program’s website.

GM swept the 2014 awards with the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Silverado. GM also won the 2013 car of the year award, for the Cadillac ATS, but it has no cars on this year’s short list.

Ford last won in 2011 when the Explorer received the truck of the year award. The redesign of Ford’s most important vehicle, the F-150 pickup, to use an aluminum body makes it a favorite to win truck of the year. The F-150 won each of the last three times it was redesigned — 2009, 2004 and 1996. But among its competitors this year are GM’s two new small pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

Read the full story here.

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All New 2015 Honda Fit Designed to Top the Subcompact Class

Small car grows up a bit with new features and more safety. The old Honda Fit was so popular in the United States that Honda consistently struggled to produce enough Fits in Japan to keep up with demand here. The 2015 Honda Fit hatchbacks are already rolling off the line at a brand-new plant in Celaya, Mexico, that has a production capacity of 200,000 units per year. Problem solved. This new plant will also be home to a new addition to the Fit family, a subcompact crossover that will compete with the funky Nissan Juke.

Despite all the love for the first two iterations of the Fit, Honda saw room for improvement with the 2015 Honda Fit. The subcompact segment has evolved over the past few years, with newer competitors offering better fuel efficiency, more technology, and higher levels of refinement than the outgoing Honda Fit. To get back to the top of the class, the redesigned Fit must zero in on these areas without straying from Honda’s proven small-car formula.

There’s no reason to think that demand for this new Fit won’t be just as high as before, if not higher. The 2015 Honda Fit is more efficient, more refined, and better-equipped than before without sacrificing the practical appeal and peppy personality that have made it a success thus far. To accentuate the fresh exterior styling, the Fit will be available in eight colors, including several vibrant options.

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What is the Future of the Convertible?

Even in Canada with our less than accomodating weather, we still love convertibles – in-fact my next car will be a mini convertible!  Whether fitted with soft or hard folding lids, today’s droptops are better than ever for year-round motoring. Advancements in power top mechanisms, sealing, aerodynamics, structural rigidity, rollover safety and creature comforts like heated and cooled seats mean that modern convertibles are more versatile and better to drive than ever before. Yet the segment’s sales took a dive during the recession and haven’t come back, Automotive News reports.

Part of that is because automakers are looking at today’s more sensible buyers and simply not developing as many new models, and that lack of fresh iron is curbing sales. AN cites R.L. Polk data which notes that only about one per cent of new vehicles registered in the US last year had tops that folded. Back in 2009, it was 1.4 per cent, and it was 2 per cent in 2006. All-in, some 151,636 convertibles were registered in 2012. That’s more units more than were registered in each of the past three years, but the market has also grown as the economy has picked up speed, and as a per centage of new vehicles purchased, convertible sales are lagging.

Read the full article here.

Learn About the RIDE Program

Great little article with all the details you need to know about the RIDE program.

Telltale Signs: Toronto RIDE program officers have identified a number of behaviours that give away an impaired driver. Among them: weaving, gum-chewing, driving with open windows in cold weather, failing to turn on headlights, evasive responses to questions, leaning away from the window when questioned, and rolling down the rear window instead of the front when questioned by police.

Read the full story here.

Mercedes Pushing Hard Against BMW for Top Spot

It’s one of the most bitter battles in the American automotive marketplace, and it pits two of Germany’s luxury automakers in a grab for the brass ring.  But this year, Mercedes-Benz is betting it can topple rival BMW to become the best-selling luxury automotive brand in the world’s largest high-end market.

But volume alone isn’t the measure of success, said Mercedes’ top American executive. The maker is looking at significant future growth that it hopes will also position it as the industry leader in terms of gross margins.

And key to that growth, said Mercedes-Benz U.S. Chief Executive Steve Cannon, is a wave of new products that will not only cover existing market segments but also some “white space” areas where the luxury maker currently doesn’t participate.

Read the full story here.

The Facts on Electric Cars Exploding

Supporters of electric vehicles are getting charged up in their defense of battery-powered cars, citing the pros of plug-ins and attacking critics for ignoring, misrepresenting or misunderstanding the facts.

General Motors, for instance, is now saying Chevrolet Volt owners collectively have “saved a supertanker of gasoline since the electric car with extended range went on sale.” Volt owners have gone 40 million miles on electricity and avoided using more than 2.1 million gallons of gasoline, says GM in a new release.

“No electric vehicle has ever caught fire, and yet the political right is constantly talking about the flammability, overheating, fire hazards and so forth,” an exasperated Lutz is reported have said. “Folks,” said the former Marine Corp. pilot and noted global warning skeptic, “it’s a pure fiction. Get it out of your heads.”

Lutz himself is no friend of left-wingers and liberals on most issues, but when it comes to EVs he’s almost in bed with the Ralph Naders of the world. For more on his views, have a look at his recent column in Forbes entitled “I Give Up On Correcting The Wrong-Headed Right Over The Volt.”

It’s hard to imagine Lutz penning something with “Wrong-Headed Right” in the headline, but such is the juiced atmosphere in the EV debate.

Read the full article here.

Big Ford Truck Recall

Ford is recalling up to 1.22 million older pickup trucks due to a problem which could cause fuel leaks and a risk of fire, the company and US car-safety regulators announced on Monday.

“Prolonged exposure to road deicing chemicals may cause severe corrosion of the fuel tank straps which secure the tank to the vehicle,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a recall notice.

That could lead to the tank breaking off and hitting the ground, possibly sparking a fire, the NHTSA said.

As many as 1.1 million vehicles in the United States were affected by the recall, including F-150 and F-250 pickup trucks made from 1997 to 2004 and Lincoln Blackwood luxury pickups made from 2002 to 2003, it said.

An additional 120,000 trucks in Canada would be affected by the recall, Ford said. The overwhelming majority of trucks affected by the recall were in the United States and Canada, a Ford spokesman said.

US owners of the affected trucks were eligible to receive free repairs starting on September 12, the NHTSA said.

You Can Now Recycle Oil and Fluid Bottles in Quebec

Quebec “do-it-yourself” drivers will now be able to recycle their empty plastic oil and fluid containers, and used oil and filters at Canadian Tire stores across the province through the Go Eco program.

The program was initially launched in ten stores in Québec City, Thetford Mines and Dolbeau, where more than 6,200 kilograms of oil containers were collected and responsibly disposed, plus an increase of nearly 25 per cent more used filters than in the same period last year.

Read the full article here.

Car Taken Apart in Six Minutes

Nice article and video from the Kentucky Police on how easy it is for thieves to steal and strip your car.

You walk outside and find your car missing. After a few seconds of irrational denial — “I’m sure I just misplaced it,” you think — you realize the car has been stolen. What you don’t realize is that by the time you file a police report, the car could already be spare parts.