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<i>KELLEY BLUE BOOK</i> STUDY RATES VEHICLE BRANDS IN "DRIVING PERFORMANCE"

According to Kelley Blue Book's 'Driving Performance' portion of its consumer automotive perceptions research study Brand Watch, Toyota and BMW each claimed two number-one spots for best driving performance. Toyota took the top spot in both the minivan and non-luxury SUV segments, while BMW was singled out for top honors among luxury SUVs and luxury sedans, according to its latest results.

GM'S NEW DIESEL FOR 2009

According to a recent WardsAuto.com article, the Hummer H2 and Chevrolet and GMC light-duty pickups built after 2009 will come available with an all-new 4.5L V8 Duramax turbodiesel. The new powerplant will be produced at General Motors Corp.'s Tonawanda, New York, plant.
   

JULY VEHICLE PRODUCTION FORECAST

June North American output will be unimpressive but give way to a major rebound in July, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. June will finish with an estimated production of 1,425,251 cars and trucks, falling 6.3% short of 1,521,101 units last year. That means second-quarter 2007 will wrap up with a total production of 4,162,319 vehicles, which is a decline of 2.6% from last year's 4,274,339. First-half 2007 should finish near 8,099,673 vehicles, down 5.4% from the 8,561,519 built during the second half of 2006.

SMALL-BUSINESS TRENDS—HOW DO YOU COMPARE?

Small-business owners showed neither excitement nor anxiety over the state of the economy in May, according to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). Their outlook, as measured by the NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, edged up four-tenths of a point from April to 97.2 (1986=100). The good news is that the NFIB says that there is no recession signal—its Index has been consistent in anticipating the approach of recessions throughout the organization's 34-year history.

ALTERNATIVE–FUEL AUTOMOBILES SURGE TO MEET DEMAND

Dealerships around the nation are receiving a growing number of Alternative Fuel Automobiles (AFA), claims a survey by R.L. Polk & Co. The continual rise in these vehicle configurations might signal a widespread acceptance of hybrids, diesels and other forms of energy.
   

PLUG-IN HYBRIDS BY GOOGLE!

Google and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), the utility serving Northern California, recently displayed its six Toyota Prius and Ford Escape hybrids that partly run on electricity provided by the power grid in order to achieve up to 75 mpg, according to a recent article by The New York Times. One of these vehicles was also modified to give back power to the power company while the vehicle is not in use.

THROTTLE-LESS VALVE CONTROL IS COMING

Toyota recently released details of its new Valvematic variable-valve timing technology for improving the efficiency and performance of its gasoline internal-combustion engines, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. In addition to employing elements of its existing VVT-i (Variable Valve Timing-intelligent) technology, Valvematic uses a new mechanism to control the volume of air entering the engine by precisely metering the opening/closing of the intake valves.

NUMBER OF E85 STATIONS GROWS 61%

The number of E85 refueling locations across the United States now exceeds 1,200, according to the National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC). The Renew E85, LLC station at 1440 Horicon Street in Maryville, Wisconsin, is one of the newest E85 stations and put the total number of E85 fueling sites over 1,200. 

GOING INTO PRODUCTION: THESE VEHICLES TRAVEL BY LAND AND SEA

Two production-ready amphibious vehicles are planned for introduction in the United States in 2009, according to UK-based Gibbs Technologies, who is forming three new companies to produce and market its vehicles in North America. Quadski, an all-terrain vehicle, will be manufactured and sold by Gibbs Sports Amphibians. Aquada, a vehicle that combines the handling of a sports car with an ability to travel at more than 30 mph on water, will be built and marketed by Gibbs Amphibians.

STUDY SHOWS WHY DRIVERS ARE GOING TO XENON LIGHTING

A new study reports that safety is a major reason why consumers consider and purchase Xenon or High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights on their automobiles.

The research was conducted by Brand-Aid Consulting of Wrentham, Massachusetts. In conjunction with R.L. Polk registration data, Brand-Aid surveyed 400 people who drove 2003–2005 model-year vehicles. Two hundred of the owners drove Xenon-equipped vehicles, while the other half drove vehicles with halogen lighting.

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