Market Snapshot

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NEXT-GENERATION HUMMER H2

According to WardsAuto, the Hummer H2 has become the modern icon of conspicuous consumption. For the specialty-equipment market, it has become somewhat of an icon for customization. For 2008, the next Hummer H2 will be more powerful than ever.

MERCEDES-BENZ NEW AMG MODEL TO HIT SPRING 2008

The Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG, which according to AutoWeek will go on sale in spring 2008, is expected to challenge BMW’s new M3 for outright driver appeal. Tobias Moers of Mercedes-Benz says that the C63 has more development miles than any other cars in AMG’s 40-year history.

VOLKSWAGEN'S NEW HIGH-PERFORMANCE CAR WILL BE HARD TO GET

The limited-production Volkswagen R32 will be one of the cars with a lot of appeal for the sport-compact market, but it won’t be easy to get. And according to WardsAuto, its price tag will be more than twice that of the $15,000 base-model Rabbit hatchback and will have exotic-car performance.

ELECTROMAGNETIC ACTUATORS COULD REPLACE HYDRAULIC COMPONENTS

Hydraulic components are found many places in the automotive and specialty-equipment industries. They can be found on carbon-fiber hoods and the lift gates of SUVs. They are often slow and noisy. But some people have developed a product that could potentially replace standard hydraulics—the electromagnetic actuator.

HONDA'S FUEL-CELL CONCEPT

According to Honda, the next-generation FCX Concept fuel-cell vehicle made its European driving debut at the Gotland Ring in Sweden. They claim the vehicle is 60% energy efficient, about three times that of a petrol-engine vehicle and twice that of a hybrid.

CARS STILL A HIGHER PRIORITY THAN ENTERTAINMENT

Discover Financial Services recently conducted a survey asking consumers what they would be willing to do to save money during this time of high gas prices. According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, the survey found that 80% of Americans say their car or truck is very important to their everyday lives.

MERCEDES-BENZ ANNOUNCES C-CLASS PRICING

Mercedes-Benz just announced pricing for its C class models, according to AutoWeek. The automaker actually cut the cost of the upper trim levels of the 2008 C class, but increased the base price by $1,500. The new C class will be available on August 7 in sport and luxury trim levels that feature suspension tuning and distinctive front ends, wheels and interior trim.

FROM CHICKEN NUGGETS TO SYNTHETIC FUEL

An unlikely new player has entered the biofuel arena. Tyson Foods, the world’s largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef and pork, and Syntroleum Companies recently announced the formation of Dynamic Fuels LLC to build the first commercial synthetic fuels plant in the United States. The plant will target the renewable diesel, jet and military fuel markets.

GROWTH OF VEHICLE ELECTRONICS

Electronics and software represent more than 20% of the cost of today’s vehicles. Analysts project growth to 35% or even 40% by 2010. So according to WardsAuto, so-called embedded computing is growing as well.

TOP MODS OF THE URBAN-LIFESTYLE MARKET

We saw it a few years ago: young car buyers were accessorizing their rides primarily with "dress-up" parts, such as big wings, race-inspired body kits and a host of dress-up modifications. This may sound like the sport-compact market of yesterday, but that market as we know it today has shifted more toward performance, with appearance almost becoming secondary. So what has happened to that consumer who wants his or her car to look cool and is less concerned with performance? The answer may lie in what is known as the urban-lifestyle market.

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