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SALES OF PORTABLE NAV DEVICES EXPECTED TO GROW


The market for in-vehicle global positioning systems (GPS) is growing, with sales forecasted to exceed 3.3 million units this year, according to a recent Wall Street Journal report. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), meanwhile, says that sales of aftermarket personal navigation devices experienced triple-digit growth in 2006, with over 2.2 million new units sold.

UPDATE: GLAZED WINDSHIELD KEEPS DRIVERS COOL AND IMPROVES FUEL ECONOMY

Earlier this month it was reported in eNews that PPG had just released its Sungate EP automotive glass windshield, which they said significantly reduces the transmission of solar energy into a vehicle, keeping the interior cooler and improving fuel economy. The new technology employs a glazing process built into Sungate windshields, which reduces front seat temperatures 27 degrees F (15 degrees C) and air-breath temperatures 16 degrees F (9 degrees C).

B-CLASS BENZ COULD HIT U.S. MARKET

A new Mercedes-Benz B-class small car could enter the U.S. market as early as 2011, according to a recent AutoWeek article. The automaker said that if they were to bring the B-class here, it would be the next generation model due in 2011. The article also noted that Mercedes may bring an SUV smaller that the M-class to the United States as well.

SUBCOMPACT SALES SOAR

It has been a year since the Japanese Big Three reintroduced B-cars in the United States, and the segment has been growing ever since. According to a recent WardsAuto.com article, year-to-date sales suggest that subcompact sales will reach levels not seen in more than 11 years.

NEW PROCESS TO PRODUCE "SUPER ALLOYS"

Rapid solidification rate (RSR) technology enables production of fine-grained (nanometer-scale) and amorphous metals with uniform chemistry. These unique microstructures result from very high cooling rates that are unattainable through gas atomization or other methods. Ervin Industries has developed a rapid-solidification powder technology that is capable of producing high-purity, fine-grained or amorphous particles in the size range from 10 to 1200 micrometers with highly spherical morphology.

BELT-DRIVE STEERING COMING TO LIGHT TRUCKS

TRW Automotive recently unveiled its Electrically Powered Steering (EPS) Belt Drive system that will launch on North American models in 2008, according to a TRW Automotive press release.

FOUR REASONS FOR INCREASED AUTOMOTIVE AFTERMARKET CONSOLIDATION

Record capital inflows and low interest rates have lead to a blistering merger and acquisition (M&A) market for financial and strategic buyers-the former looking for acquisitions which will yield synergistic benefits while the latter add value to the organization with the stated goal of reselling the business at some point in the future for a profit.

"BEST BANG FOR CONSUMERS' BUCKS," SAYS CARS.COM

Consumers turn to the Internet to research the cars and trucks they plan to buy. Roughly one in five (21%) new-car buyers say that the Internet influences their vehicle-buying decision, according to SEMA data. Cars.com, an automotive research website for new vehicle buyers, recently advised consumers of its top vehicle picks based on overall cost of the vehicle: fuel economy combined with sticker price.

REPORT INDICATES GROWTH IN VEHICLE-APPEARANCE PRODUCT SALES

According to information from The NPD Group, a consumer and retail information company, marketers of vehicle appearance products (i.e. car care) could see a boost in business this spring. The firm reports 12% of consumers surveyed last fall indicated they would spend more money on vehicle appearance this year; only 4% said they would spend less.

NEW TECHNOLOGY COULD SUSTAIN PLUG-IN HYBRID INFRASTRUCTURE

Automakers aren’t the only companies taking a keen interest in plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles (PHEVs). Electric utilities are realizing development of such technology could bolster their bottom line, as well, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article.

Although PHEVs offer promising fuel efficiency, they face a number of hurdles before being introduced to the marketplace. Arguably, the most significant challenge is the way the nation’s energy grids will handle the additional power needed to recharge large numbers of plug-in vehicles.

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