EPA To Reduce Sulfur in Gasoline by 2017

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The EPA will finalize a rule that should reduce sulfur in vehicles by two-thirds beginning in 2017. The Detroit News reports the move should ultimately decrease smog-causing gases by 80 percent because the bulk of smog-forming emissions are created during the first 60 seconds or so after you start your car; catalytic converters virtually eliminate the rest of it. Sulfur in fuel reduces the effectiveness of catalytic converters over time, and the EPA lowered the allowable amount in gasoline to 30 parts per million in 2000 — a 90 percent drop at the time. Today's rule will drop that further to 10 ppm on average in 2017, which aligns most of the U.S. with regulations in California, the European Union, Japan and South Korea.

Do All Those Driving Modes Affect a Car's EPA Gas Mileage?

Automakers broadly support the move, which the EPA says will cost less than 1 cent per gallon of gasoline and around $72 per car. The agency expects the program's annual cost to total some $1.5 billion in 2030 but drive health benefits — quantified in terms like reduced respiratory sickness and fewer days missed from school or work — of $8 billion to $23 billion per year.

Our friends at the Detroit News have the whole story; click here to read it.

Cars.com photo by Evan Sears

By Kelsey Mays | March 3, 2014 | Comments (0)

Winter Weather Impacts Auto Production Worldwide

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The severe weather that has made drivers' commutes miserable for much of this winter across much of the U.S. is also affecting global and domestic auto production. Production was expected to resume Tuesday at most Toyota and Honda factories shut down after a major snowstorm in Japan disrupted shipments from parts suppliers.

How to Safely Remove Snow and Ice From Your Car

According to the Detroit News, Toyota stopped production Monday at its Takaoka plant, which builds cars including the Corolla and iQ (sold in the U.S. under the Scion brand); the Tsutsumi factory that makes the Prius and Camry; and plants in Motomachi and Tahara. All facilities but Tsutsumi were expected to resume production Tuesday. Honda, meanwhile, suspended work at its Yorii factory near Tokyo after snow affected output Feb. 14 and 15, the Detroit News reported.

By Matt Schmitz | February 18, 2014 | Comments (0)

No Union for Volkswagen's Tennessee Plant

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The United Auto Workers union was dealt a big blow Feb. 14 as employees at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, Tenn., plant voted not to unionize. The move means further efforts to unionize auto workers at other foreign automaker plants in the U.S. will be very difficult. The no vote at VW's facility follows failed UAW campaigns at Nissan and Honda plants. According to USA Today, however, Volkswagen favors the creation of a German-style "works council," which gives workers a voice on a variety of product and other decisions.

Click the link below for more from our affiliates at USA Today.

VW's Tennessee workers reject union

Manufacturer photo

By Jennifer Geiger | February 17, 2014 | Comments (7)

2011 Models Less Reliable Than 2010 Vehicles, J.D. Power Study Finds

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Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Cadillac led J.D. Power and Associates' 2014 Vehicle Dependability Study, which tracks problems per vehicle from original owners of 3-year-old cars — in this case, 2011 models. But overall problems rose 6 percent versus last year's study of 2010 models, the first time since J.D. Power's 1998 VDS that reliability in late-model cars has declined.

Does Reliability Affect Luxury-Car Sales?

Among non-luxury brands, Honda (sixth overall), Toyota (eighth) and Subaru (12th) ranked highest in the 31-brand study. Hyundai, Jeep, Land Rover, Dodge and Mini rounded out the bottom five.

Vehicle dependability, which J.D. Power expresses in problems per 100 ("PP100") vehicles, rose to 133 PP100 in the 2014 study. A year ago, it was 126 PP100 — the lowest in the 25-year study's history. Drivetrain problems led to most of the increase, the company said, as four-cylinder engines and large diesel motors accounted for more problems than conventional five- and six-cylinder engines.

By Kelsey Mays | February 12, 2014 | Comments (6)

Auto-Industry Employment Hits Highest Figure Since Summer 2008

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See a few extra employees at your local car dealership? That's because employment in the auto industry has reached a nearly 5 1/2-year high. Automakers and auto-parts suppliers employed 846,400 Americans in January 2014, according to seasonally adjusted preliminary data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's up nearly 47,000 from January 2013. Car dealers employed another 1.16 million Americans, up 42,000 from a year ago. Both figures are the highest since August 2008.

American-Made Index: Which Automakers Affect the Most U.S. Workers?

Still, there might just be more dealers setting up shop — or reopening — in your local auto mall. The National Auto Dealers Association says 17,540 franchised dealers (e.g., Joe's Chevrolet) existed in 2012, its latest year on record. That's down from 20,770 dealers in 2008, but the figures don't include independent dealers (e.g., Joe's Used Cars).

Our friends at the Detroit News have more. Click here for the full story.

By Kelsey Mays | February 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Toyota, Ford Top Consumer Reports' Brand-Perception Survey

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People love Toyota but think Land Rover stinks, according to Consumer Reports' 2014 Car-Brand Perception Survey. The magazine quantified Toyota's brand image to an indexed score of 145, which put it ahead of second-place Ford (120 points), third-place Honda (109) and Chevrolet (105). On the flip side, Land Rover's 4-point index score placed it last; sister brand Jaguar scored just 9 points.

Consumer Reports Survey Shakes Up Rankings

Consumer Reports said brand perception reflects how consumers view auto brands across seven categories: quality, safety, performance, value, fuel economy, design/style and technology/innovation. Myriad factors, from marketing and recalls to actual hands-on experience and awards, influence the scores. And it's those categories — in that order of importance — that consumers find most important in cars, the magazine said.

By Kelsey Mays | February 5, 2014 | Comments (0)

In 2013, Automakers Recalled the Most Cars Since 2004

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From faulty fuel systems on Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee SUVs to bad airbag modules in Toyota Corolla and Matrix compacts, 2013 seemed like it had too many recalls to, well, recall. Citing a Monday report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Detroit News said automakers issued 632 recalls that affected nearly 22 million cars in 2013. That's a lot higher than 2012's 581 recalls affecting 16.4 million cars, and it's the highest figure since 2004, when automakers recalled a record 30.8 million cars.

Still, we've found in the past that sky-high recalls don't seem to affect new-car sales that much. See the top 10 biggest recalls of 2013 here, and click below for more details from the Detroit News.

Automakers recall 22 million vehicles in '13 — most since '04 (Detroit News)

By Kelsey Mays | February 4, 2014 | Comments (0)

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: January 2014

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Automakers didn't quite experience a Denver Broncos-sized shellacking in January, but it was rough sledding for many. January is typically a weak sales month — and the weather, which brought a polar vortex to the Midwest and freezing temperatures to the Gulf Coast, kept even more shoppers at home.

January 2014's Fastest- and Slowest-Selling Cars

Eight of the top 10 best-sellers saw sales slide, and the results booted the Honda CR-V off the list, while the Toyota Corolla returned after a one-month hiatus.

Two of the biggest losers — the Honda Accord and Chevrolet Silverado — both pulled in a monster sales month in January 2013, but the Camry's descent has more weight. Even as Toyota turned up the spigot on purchase incentives versus year-ago levels, shoppers gave the automaker's best-seller the cold shoulder. Some may have gravitated toward competitors like the Nissan Altima (up 4.9 percent), while others may have ditched the family sedan altogether. From the Chevrolet Malibu to the Hyundai Sonata, a number of popular nameplates saw January sales slide.

By Kelsey Mays | February 3, 2014 | Comments (14)

New Global Parent Company Dubbed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

FCAlogo

With the stated intention of establishing itself as a true global automaker, Fiat's board of directors today announced a corporate reorganization creating a parent company over all its operations, which include both the Fiat brand and Chrysler. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., or FCA, will be headquartered in the Netherlands and based for tax purposes in the United Kingdom. Its shares will be listed on the New York and Milan stock exchanges.

Fiat Buys the Rest of Chrysler: What It Means to You

"Five years ago we began to cultivate a vision that went beyond industrial cooperation to include full cultural integration at all levels," Sergio Marchionne, Fiat CEO and Chrysler chairman and CEO said in a statement. "We have worked tenaciously and single-mindedly to transform differences into strengths and break down barriers of nationalistic or cultural resistance. Today we can say that we have succeeded in creating solid foundations for a global automaker with a mix of experience and know-how on a level with the best of our competitors."

By Matt Schmitz | January 29, 2014 | Comments (6)

Honda Is a Net Exporter, Sort Of

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You might have heard that Honda is a net U.S. exporter, sending more U.S.-built cars to international markets than it imports into the U.S. for sale. But don't take the news at face value.

Here's why. The automaker, which includes the Honda brand and its Acura luxury division, declared itself a "net exporter in the U.S. for the first time" on Tuesday by virtue of shipping more U.S.-built cars to international markets than it imported to the U.S. in 2013. 

But it only counts imports from Japan — which accounted for 88,537 cars in 2013 — in that tally. Those Japan imports fell below the 108,705 cars that Honda shipped out of the U.S. in 2013, excluding cars sent to Canada. The infographic above is provided by Honda and the line "Honda exported more cars from the U.S. than it imported from Japan" is correct.

American-Made Index: Which Automakers Affect the Most U.S. Workers?

That means Honda exported more cars from the U.S., excluding exports to Canada, than it imported from Japan alone in 2013. Did it export more cars from the U.S. than it imported from all countries? Honda won't say, but it's unlikely.

By Kelsey Mays | January 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

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