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WHY GASOLINE PRICES WILL STAY HIGH

Gas prices are averaging $3.20 across the United States, and the cost for a gallon of gasoline is likely to remain high. Lynn Westfall, chief economist for Tesoro, recently told BusinessWeek that consumers have already spent $20 billion more on gasoline this year than last—a considerable dent in their disposable incomes.

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.

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.

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%.

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%.

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.

WHAT SEMA MEMBERS SAY ARE TOP SELLERS

The following is a short excerpt from the "2007 Trends and Forecasts Quarterly Update-Q1."

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. 


WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN OPTING FOR OUTSOURCING

Outsourcing is the process of having certain services that could be, or have been, provided internally performed on a continuing basis by companies or individuals outside your organization. It's long been common in manufacturing for companies to depend on external suppliers to provide them with components made to their specifications. Most business decisions favoring outsourcing are made for economic reasons, according to a recent article from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).

WHEN TO PASS ON A BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY

What does is take to be successful in business? According to Larry Mersereau-small business consultant, speaker and author in the field of marketing and promotion-a look at successful people tells you that the ability to spot opportunity in these rapidly changing times is one major key. And it's not enough to just see opportunity, he says. It's not even enough to see it and act on it. It's at least equally important to be able to assess whether the opportunity you're looking at is right for you...before you act on it.

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