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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.
   

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.
   

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.

NEW SEMA TRENDS AND FORECASTS REPORT AVAILABLE

SEMA members now have exclusive access to the 2007 Trends and Forecasts Quarterly Update - Q1, the latest update to the popular Trends and Forecasts series of reports, as an additional benefit to being a SEMA member. This most recent edition provides an industry overview of relevant developments and trends in the automotive industry during the first three months of 2007. In this report, which can be downloaded on www.sema.org/research, you will find:

* New-vehicle sales data
* The latest consumer buying trends

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.

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.

DIESEL PICKUPS IN DRAG RACING—AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU?

Imagine a fullsize street diesel pickup running a quarter-mile drag race in 10 seconds while achieving speeds of around 130 mph, or pulling a 36,000-pound "sled" on a 300-foot clay dirt track in 13 seconds. Next, imagine the same guy who owns that diesel pickup driving it home and using it for everyday driving. This scenario describes a growing segment of die-hard diesel enthusiasts who are using their diesel-powered pickups for more than just everyday hauling and towing.

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.

IS YOUR METAL DIRTY? NEW PROCESS HELPS DETECT

Textron Inc. is now seeking licensing agreements for its latest surface-contamination detection system that enables accurate, automated, inline inspection of metallic and composite panels prior to bonding, coating, painting or welding operations. It says that the technology is currently used for real-time, in-process panel inspection at a leading U.S. aircraft manufacturer, where detecting surface contamination before subsequent operations has resulted in lower scrap and rework cost and improved customer satisfaction.

WHO IS USING THE INTERNET?

Approximately 71% of U.S. consumers are using the Internet today, according to data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Nearly the same numbers of men versus women are using the Internet, but the age groups that are now going online is skewed toward younger demographics. According to the data, 87% of consumers aged 18–29 use the Internet, but 83% of the consumers aged 30–49, 65% between 50–64 and 32% of those over 65, are now going online. In other words, consumers under 50 years old are typically using the Internet.

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