Monday, August 30, 2010

EPA Goes Back To School With New Fuel Economy Ratings

The EPA in conjunction with the Department of Transportation today showed two variations of upcoming fuel economy stickers. The stickers will be changing to accomodate electric and plug in vehicles. One of the options shown includes a school grading style system for the vehicle's overall "greeness", from A+ to D. You can't Fail according to the government. The other proposed labeling system looks a lot more like the current window stickers. The updated labels also show the fuel economy/energy consumption of electric vehicles and plugins in gallon equivalents. For example one of the EPA labels shows an electric vehicle getting 98 mpg equivalent. This means that this vehicle will travel 98 miles on the same amount of energy contained in one gallon of gas. The labels also split up plugin vehicles like the upcoming Chevy Volt into their elecric modes and gas. One label shows a proposed plug in vehicle achieving 65 mpg equivalent on electricity and getting 38 mpg on gasoline once the battery is drained and the gas engine kicks in.

While a letter grading system is perhaps unnecessary and makes for silly looking window sticker, the EPA did the right thing by utilizing the miles per gallon equivalents for the electric and plugin vehicles. This eliminates the unrealistic ratings for plugin hybrids promised by some eariler. This system also allows the consumer to compare the overall efficiency of an electric vehicle or a plugin hybrid to vehicles with conventional internal combustion engines.

You can let your voice be heard and tell the EPA which label it should use here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mid Cycle Facelifts

Most brands often find themselves in a position where their product has been out for a few years and is starting to look stale, but the next generation is still in the design phase. Enter the mid-cycle facelift, an opportunity for the brand to make a few changes in styling to create some excitement for a product facing newer competition. With this in mind let's take a look at five of the best mid-cycle facelifts of recent times.

Ford Fusion

Ford did an excellent job updating the Fusion, significant changes to the grill and headlights at the front and rear tail lights easily improved the Fusion's styling. New engines rounded out this very comprehensive facelift.

Saab 9-3

Another excellent and comprehensive refresh gave the 9-3 a significantly fresher design while unfortunately doing little to improve sales.

Audi A4

When the last generation A4 debuted it was a competitive car but had an overall design that was only so-so. Enter the Fusion like makeover that completely transformed the A4, giving it much fresher look.

Honda Accord

Honda didn't make too many changes on the last generation's facelift. However, new taillights made a huge difference in style. The same can't be said about the updated taillights of the 2011 Accord.

Volkswagen Passat

Volkswagen did a good job of improving the last generation Passat. The changes were significant enough to give the facelifted Passat the B5.5 designation versus the B5 of the "original".

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lancia Stratos Shows Europeans Can Do Retro Too

The Internet has been a buzz over a possible rebirth of the Lancia Stratos. A few grainy spy shots of a retro inspired Lancia Stratos surfaced a coupe of days ago, but now it looks like the car pictured here will actually be bilt. The original Lancia Stratos was a rally car for the road last seen in the 1970s. The rumor is that it will be reborn as a limitied edition Ferrari V8 powered super car in the near future to celebrate its 40th anniversary. Check out more photos of the retro styled Lancia here.

Ford Mustang Boss 302

Ford has recently shown its latest Mustang special edition, the 2012 Boss 302 channels its inner 1969 namesake for exra performance. Power from the 5.0 V8 is up to 440 (from 412) and torque now stands at 380 lb-ft. Ford claims substantial changes to all aspects of the Mustang, suspension, brakes, and stylilng. Read the full upgrades here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

July 2010 Sales

July sales were generally positive for the automakers as two-thirds of the brands showed improvement. General Motor's Cadillac and Buick led everyone and were the only brands to more than double their sales from last July. Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan reported sales increases while Honda and Toyota reported small sales drops. On the luxury front Acura and Infiniti had strong rebound months with sales improvement of 50 and 38 percent respectively. Cash for Clunkers played a small part last July but August will be a real challenge for the automakers to improve upon last year's clunker driven sales.

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