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J.D. POWER SAYS THESE VEHICLES HAVE “HIGHEST INITIAL QUALITY”

The Initial Quality Study (IQS) released by J.D Power and Associates each year measures vehicle quality at 90 days of ownership. Problems experienced by vehicle owners are separated into two categories: quality of design and quality of production (defects and malfunctions).

“Over the past 20 years, the automotive industry has improved in quality at a rate of 6% per year on average—a 20-year improvement rate of more than 120%,” the report states, adding that every seven to eight years, problem counts have been reduced by 50%.

TOP 10 VALUE-RETAINING VEHICLES

SEMA research has shown that 83% of new-vehicle buyers agree that their vehicles should represent good investments. Consumers want their vehicles to retain value and may make their future purchase decisions partly based on this factor. With this in mind, CarGurus (www.cargurus.com), an automotive community offering consumers pricing information on new vehicles, assembled its list of the 10 best and 10 worst vehicles in terms of retention value.

NEW STUDY TOUTS BENEFITS OF PROPANE-FUELED VEHICLES

A recent study by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) found that if a select 10% of the U.S. commercial fleet vehicle population switched to propane, the country could displace nearly 1 billion gallons of gasoline annually by 2017.

CONVERTIBLE SUVS ARE BACK!

As summer approaches, consumers are buying vehicles that reflect their outdoor-loving lifestyles, and the purchase of convertible SUVs is growing in popularity among many of these drivers. SEMA-member Newport Convertible Engineering, a Placentia, California-based custom shop, has been taking the tops off of new FJ Cruisers and Hummer H3s for its customers for some time now, which the company says is a growing trend.

INTERIOR LIGHTING NEW PERSONALIZATION TREND?

New-vehicle buyers are increasingly demanding customized vehicle interiors that make their vehicles feel uniquely theirs, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. The trend spans newly licensed “Echo Boomers” to well-experienced baby boomers. However, the latter is more concerned with comfort while the former want different interior colors for their personalization needs, commented Erich Merkle, IRN Inc. director of forecasting, in the WardsAuto.com article.

VEHICLE INTERIORS NOW KINDER TO THE ENVIRONMENT

Automakers are increasing their use of “environmental-friendly” materials in vehicle interiors, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. The article notes that one of the hottest “eco-friendly” interior materials is soybeans, which in the form of soybean oil can be used in place of petroleum polyols to create foam for headrests, armrests and seat cushions.

TOP 10 SELLING CARS AND LIGHT TRUCKS REVEALED

Gasoline prices continuing to hover well over $3 per gallon helped to entice more U.S. drivers to buy more cars than light trucks last month. In fact, May 2002 marked the last time cars outsold light trucks. Of the 1,555,374 new light vehicles sold in May, 778,651 were cars and 776,723 were light trucks.

TIRE-PRESSURE MONITORING SYSTEM AUTOMATICALLY INFLATES

MAXAIR, ATMI Inc. has developed a new tire-pressure monitoring system for light vehicles, called MAXAIR, which automatically inflates under-inflated tires on equipped vehicles while in transit. The company says that its new technology could help reduce the 30,000 accidents and 660 deaths that are blamed on under-inflated tires every year in the United States, as well as help save drivers a potential $5 billion in gas and reduce CO2 emissions by 250 pounds per car annually by improving gas mileage 3.3%.

BMW CONFIRMS PRODUCTION OF 3-SERIES-BASED CUV

BMW has recently announced that it will begin production of the long-awaited 3-Series CUV, according to a recent AutoWeek.com article.  It is expected to be labeled as the F3 when it hits dealerships sometime in 2010, BMW says, and will likely target Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 buyers. 


NISSAN CUBE TO OUT-BOX SCION XB?

In the wake of other successful B-segment icons, such as the Scion xB, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris, Nissan has signaled its plans of transplanting another diminutive Japanese vehicle to the U.S. market—the Cube.
   

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