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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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

HYBRID SUPRA WINS ENDURANCE RACE CONVINCINGLY

Team Toyota’s Denso-backed SARD Supra HV-R scored an impressive victory at the Tokachi 24-hour endurance race in Japan on July 15 and 16. News has already started circulating about the achievement as this feat marks the first time a hybrid car has won such a contest. Even more notable was the convincing fashion in which it dominated: 19 laps ahead of its nearest competitor. Starting from the pole position the car accumulated 1,960 miles and 616 laps without yielding its front-running slot.

THE FUTURE OF AUTOMOTIVE FEATURES, SAYS ICONOCULTURE

Mobile consumers are quickly moving beyond traditional surprise-and-delight automotive features and asking themselves, “Why aren’t cars better equipped to accommodate today’s mobile technology?” A recent article by Rob Tregenza, vice president of consumer strategist, transportation/travel/leisure and sports/fitness for Iconoculture, discusses why consumer demands for access to personal media are set to reshape the future of automotive features.

VM MOTORI TO PRODUCE NEW V6 TURBO DIESEL

General Motors recently announced that it has reached a joint venture agreement with Penske Corporation to purchase 50% equity of VM Motori S.p.A, a designer and manufacturer of diesel engines based in Cento, Italy.

This investment builds on GM’s existing relationship with VM Motori, GM’s diesel expertise worldwide, and its strong relationship with Isuzu. 

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