Vehicle sales in the US were expected to be hot in August. They were blazing.
All told, auto sales figures, released today by dealers, are on pace to jump 17 percent from July, topping a 16 million annualized rate for the month of August. That would be the best sales pace since November 2007. Analysts expected a 15.8 million annualized pace.
Each of the big three Detroit automakers – General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford – posted sales gains percentages in double digits for July. General Motors fared the best of the three, selling 275,847 vehicles in the US and posting a 14.7 percent sales gain from August 2012. Ford sold 221,270 US cars last month, up 12.2 percent from the August of last year. And Chrysler sold 165,552 vehicles in the US last month, up 12 percent from August 2012.
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"The second half of 2013 is off to a very solid start for GM and our model-year change over and new product launches are going smoothly,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s vice president of US sales operations, said in a company release. “We have a lot of momentum and we feel good about the direction of the US economy as we prepare to launch even more new products, including all-new heavy duty pickups and large SUVs for Chevrolet and GMC, a completely redesigned Cadillac CTS and the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.” ( Continue… )
Ford Motor Co is recalling about 370,000 model year 2005 to 2011 Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car sedans in the United States and Canada to fix a steering shaft issue, the company said in a statement.
Corrosion of the lower intermediate steering shaft of vehicles in "high corrosion states and provinces" may result in the loss of steering, the company said.
The 355,000 vehicles in the U.S. recall are in Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin andWest Virginia.
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The remaining 15,000 cars are in Canada.
Ford said that dealers will inspect and replace the lower intermediate steering shaft and, if necessary, secure a lower steering column bearing and replace the upper intermediate steering shaft.
The company was unaware of any accidents or injuries linked to the issue, it said.
Last year, we asked the question, "If you send a text to a driver, can you go to jail if he crashes?"
Most folks responded, "No" -- sometimes, "No #*$&% way!" But judges in New Jersey apparently have a different opinion.
In 2009, Kyle Best was exchanging text messages with Shannon Colonna. Best was driving at the time.
Distracted by Colonna's texts, Best drifted out of his travel lane and collided with a motorcycle being ridden by David and Linda Kubert. Each of the Kuberts lost a leg in the accident, and they sued Best, who settled out of court.
But the case didn't stop there. Litigation being what it is, the Kuberts also sued Colonna, arguing that she was just as guilty as Best because she distracted him from the task of driving.
Judge David Rand found that Colonna was not liable for the accident, insisting that drivers alone are responsible for their actions. But according to CNN, the Kuberts appealed Rand's decision and won -- well, almost.
Three appeals court judges found merit in the Kuberts' argument: "We hold that the sender of a text message can potentially be liable if an accident is caused by texting, but only if the sender knew or had special reason to know that the recipient would view the text while driving and thus be distracted."
That last bit is important: though Colonna could've been held liable for Best's accident, the judges determined that she was unaware that Best was driving at the time. That decision was informed, in part, by Colonna's age at the time of the incident (she was 17) and by the fact that she regularly sent over 100 text messages per day, apparently clueless about what recipients might be doing at the time.
The appeals court decision has already been widely criticized, with everyone from Governor Chris Christie to the Man on the Street arguing that drivers are ultimately responsible for whether they read and respond to text messages.
We agree. There are plenty of distractions in the auto space, but drivers are tasked with ignoring them and keeping their eyes on the road. For example, chatting with a driver can be distracting: can someone be arrested for having a discussion with a driver if that driver hits another car? Food and beverages can be distracting, too: should fast food restaurants be sued for accidents if the coffee and burgers they serve cause a distracted-driving accident? The list of possibilities seems endless.
Call us old-fashioned, but we think drivers study and practice in order to minimize their susceptibility to distractions. Blaming accidents on the source of those distractions rather than the person behind the wheel absolves the driver of her/his responsibility in all but the most extreme cases.
Does that line up with your own opinions on the matter? Sound off in the comments below.
Bonus: If you haven't seen acclaimed director Werner Herzog's documentary about texting and driving called "From One Second to the Next", it's well, well worth your time. We've embedded it above.
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Fewer people at work, fewer people driving. It's a simple equation and one that a lot of experts pointed to as explanation for the notable drop in the total miles U.S. motorists clocked during the depths of the recession.
So, how to explain the fact that even as the economy finally is showing real signs of recovery the number of miles driven continues to decline. That report from the Federal Highway Administration is just the latest indication that Americans may be falling out of love with their automobiles.
In its report released this week, the agency said the number of vehicle miles traveled—VMT in the lingo of the transportation world—continued dropping during the first half of 2013. If the past were prologue, the numbers would have rebounded at least slightly to reflect the national rise in employment and income. (More from The Detroit Bureau: First Drive: 2014 Toyota Corolla)
In a study earlier this month, researchers from the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center found that the number of miles individuals are driving has been declining sharply in recent years. That figure peaked at an average 900 miles per month in July 2004. By July 2012, it was down to 820 a month, a figure the researchers hadn't seen since the final years of the last millennium. ( Continue… )
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has every right to be proud of his creation, the Tesla Model S.
It's snatched so many awards he probably needs a second office to keep them all in, and it's just been rated as the safest car the NHTSA has ever tested.
When it comes to whatever the rest of the industry is doing though, he's rather less impressed. And in a new interview with Bloomberg, he's given both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf--the two most prolific plug-ins on America's roads--a big, solid "meh".
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It isn't the first time he's sniped at either car, once labeling the Volt as "unimpressive" and calling the Nissan Leaf's battery "primitive"--this before the Model S had even come to market. But this time he's really gone to town with the criticism.
Neither car, he says, is great on aesthetics, nor acceleration and handling, nor fit and finish, nor each car's electronics--all reasons a person might buy a car, in Musk's view, and therefore leaving neither car with sufficient desirability in any area to make it worth buying. Speaking of the Volt especially, Musk says it does neither the "gasoline car" nor "electric car" task as well as a dedicated gas or electric vehicle, while the Leaf's range is still too short. ( Continue… )
More than 100,000 people from around the globe are expected to take part in weekend concerts, parade, street parties and other events. Motorcycle enthusiasts from as far away as Australia are in Milwaukee for the reunion of those who share a passion for the Harley brand.
It's finally that time of year--when schoolgoers of all ages get very sad, when parents breathe a sigh of relief.
It's time to go back to school, and the kids are almost set: tablets, new sneakers, a sweet backpack.
Wait, did you forget something? How about a new set of wheels? School time is a great time to consider a new car, because a new model year brings bigger discounts on the outgoing models. Never mind that; it's the perfect chance to show off in the pickup lane.
While you make one last back-to-school shopping list--cars to test-drive--we'll let you share our notes. We've picked our top choices for back-to-school vehicles, for every stage of education, from kindergarten to passing the bar. And in each case, we've picked some of the safest, most value-packed vehicles you can buy.
Elementary School: 2014 Ford Flex
You need something that makes the wheels go round and round with maximum safety, a minimum of fuss, and the most entertainment per mile. How about something that actually looks like a bus? The top-rated Ford Flex wagon is stuffed with its DVD entertainment systems, Bluetooth streaming, and excellent crash-test scores. The only thing missing? Maybe a coat of school-bus yellow paint. ( Continue… )
It's something Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] is discovering too, as sales of the Model S sedan are ramping up in the island state, and taking a healthy chunk of the market's electric car sales overall.
The Hawaii Automobile Dealers Association reports (via Pacific Business News) that Tesla sold 94 Model S vehicles from January through June, around a quarter of the 388 electric cars sold in the state over the same period. Those sales are accelerating too, as 72 of those were sold in the second quarter alone.
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Sales of electric cars in general have been steadily increasing in Hawaii, but the first half-year of 2013 is already outpacing 2012's total of 341 cars. That was a slight increase from 338 in 2011. The presence of the Model S, more affordable Leafs and Chevy Volts and the addition of a few more electric vehicles from other brands. Nissan put its high Hawaii sales down to one of the densest recharging grids in the United States--meaning EV drivers find it really easy to get around. ( Continue… )
Toyota has announced pricing for the 2014 Corolla Range, with an entry point of $17,610 for the Corolla L.
Available in L, LE, S and LE Eco trim lines, Corolla pricing runs from the sub-$18K of the L to $22,110 for a top-end S Plus.
This model features a, six-speed manual transmission, 17-inch alloy wheels, a moonroof, Entune Premium Audio with Navigation and App suite, and Smart Key as standard equipment.
Even L grade cars come with a reasonable equipment roster, with LED daytime running lights and low-beam headlights, Bluetooth connectivity and eight airbags. Raise the bar to $19,110 and you'll have access to LE trim, with a backup monitor, climate control, cruise, keyless entry and Entune audio. ( Continue… )
Safety sells. We know that wasn't always the case; but in today's market, the majority of new-car shoppers do value how well a car will protect them in a crash—or how it might help them avoid one altogether.
Trouble is, between the two U.S. agencies that conduct crash tests—the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)—there's a lot of information to distill. And to compound matters, the test results from these two agencies aren't always in agreement.
We already help make sense of that in the Safety section of each full review here at The Car Connection, and that's a great place to start when cross-shopping models before you head to the dealership. And to make this information even more useful to those who want one of the safest new cars, we've done some additional sorting to filter out the best of the best.
In order to come up with this list of safest cars, we looked at vehicles that earn top scores in both (sorry, Tesla Motors) federal and IIHS crash-test programs. First we separated out models that get NHTSA five-star scores overall, frontal, and side (allowing 4 stars for rollover): then we looked at which of those models also qualify for the IIHS Top Safety Pick+ nod. ( Continue… )