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HOW NANOTECHNOLOGY INCREASES BATTERY, ELECTRIC CAR PERFORMANCE

Advanced nanotech batteries are becoming a driving force in making electric cars go farther and faster between charges, up to five times farther than today’s conventional batteries, according to ZAP and Advanced Battery Technologies, Inc. With this in mind, the two companies recently announced the opening of a joint development office in Beijing, China, to expand their research, manufacturing and marketing of advanced batteries for electric cars using the latest in nanotechnology.

MOST POPULAR CARS ONLINE ARE ALSO TOP SELLERS

CarGurus recently announced its mid-year top 10 most popular car models as voted by consumers on www.CarGurus.com. Based on the quantity and quality of ratings received by each car on the website, 2007 models were ranked by consumer popularity. Given the recent spikes in gas prices, CarGurus commented that it was surprising that 70% of the top 10 most popular cars were utility trucks or sports cars. Topping the popularity list was the Jeep Wrangler, followed by the Ford Mustang.

WILL THE NEW CHRYSLER LIFETIME POWERTRAIN WARRANTY AFFECT YOU?

Chrysler recently announced that it would extend its powertrain warranty from the three-year/36,000-mile Basic Limited Warranty to a new Lifetime Powertrain Warranty. The new Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty applies to most new Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge vehicles purchased from dealer inventory and delivered on or after July 26, 2007. With a lifetime warranty, will more consumers purchase Chrysler vehicles? In a recent survey of new-vehicle buyers, vehicle warranty ranked 13 among the top 52 characteristics important to consumers when shopping for a new vehicle. 

TWIN-INJECTION ENGINE ONE OF THE 10 BEST, SAYS WARDS

According to a recent WardsAuto.com article, when Toyota Motor Corp. introduced its 3.5L, DOHC V6, 2GR-FSE, many eyebrows were raised. The reason? The engine would be the first to combine direct-injection gasoline (DIG) fueling with conventional port fuel injection (PFI). The engine was launched in the 2006 Lexus IS 350, and has won two consecutive Ward’s 10 Best Engines awards.

NUMBER-ONE SELLING CAR GETS PRICE CHANGE

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., announced manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) for its 2008 Camry and Camry Hybrid.

The gas version carries over unchanged for the 2008 model year with a price increase of $100 for each grade. The weighted average of the increase represents 0.4% across all grades. The base MSRP for the 2008 Camry sedan ranges from $18,570 for the four-cylinder engine and five-speed manual transmission to $28,120 for the premium XLE grade with a V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

VEHICLE REGISTRATIONS AMONG ETHNIC GROUPS GROW, SAYS R.L. POLK

New-vehicle registrations among ethnic groups increased by nearly 11% from 2003–2006, according to data released by R. L. Polk & Co. Hispanics, Asians and African Americans are represented in the category. Polk also reports non-ethnic new-vehicle registrations are down 7% for the same timeframe.

CONSUMERS PAY PREMIUM FOR USED DIESELS

Consumers are paying more money for the diesel option of a used vehicle than what that option originally cost new, according to a recent AutoWeek article. For example, the cost of the diesel option for the 2005 Mercedes E320 CDI sedan was $1,000, but the cost of this option rose to $2,500, according to Black Book used-vehicle price guide reports. The article notes that the reason for this lies in the fact that consumers want fullsize car and trucks with better fuel economy.

ACTIVE CONSUMERS BUYING MORE RECREATIONAL VEHICLES

The motorized recreational vehicle (RV) and non-motorized or “towable” RV market, hindered by a slow economy, is expected to pick up speed over the next five years, growing 5% and reaching $15.9 billion, according to “Recreational Vehicle Manufacturing in the U.S.”, a new report from market research publisher SBI.

A SIMPLE APPROACH TO SIX SIGMA—HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT

The concept of Six Sigma has been applied to many big businesses as a way to improve business processes, and several of these companies report substantial cost savings as a result. You can find out more about Six Sigma by downloading a series of SEMA webinars by going to www.sema.org/webinars and searching under archived webinars. In addition, the following article below, written by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, gives a simple example to help understand the basic approach to applying Six Sigma to your business.

A BELOVED AMERICAN PONY GETS A LITTLE GREENER

Ford Motor Company and Lear Corporation will mark an automotive milestone in August when production of soy-based foam for seats begins in the 2008 model year Ford Mustang.

America’s beloved pony car will use the industry’s first soy-based flexible foam in the seat backs and seat cushions beginning in August at the Auto Alliance International factory in Flat Rock, Michigan, home of the Ford Mustang.

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