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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.

NO BATTERIES NEEDED FOR NEW TPMS SENSOR

As automotive tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) mandates come into effect, Texas Instruments Incorporated and Transense Technologies PLC have developed what they say is the automotive industry’s first targeted piezo-electric surface acoustic wave (SAW) sensor based system for TPMS applications. According to a recent Texas Instruments press release, the sensor units operate wirelessly, require no power source and are typically 11 millimeters x 3 millimeters in size and less than 2 grams in weight.
 

CHRYSLER SOLD, WHAT'S NEXT

Despite the sale of Chrysler group by DaimlerChrysler, powertrain analysts at CSM Worldwide expect the restructured Chrysler to remain highly competitive in the powertrain arena well into the next decade. According to a recent CSM Worldwide press release, Chrysler has been aggressively procuring designs and outsourcing powertrain production from its global partners. The link that will be maintained with Daimler AG will be a key element of this strategy.

HOW YOUR COMPETITION DEALS WITH RISING ENERGY COSTS

SEMA members cited rising operating costs as the number-one obstacle facing their businesses, according to a SEMA research. Part of these operating costs include money spent on energy, and a recent study showed that businesses in general are faced with similar challenges imposed by rising energy costs. Results from a survey of North American business leaders indicate they expect energy prices to continue to rise, and plan to invest in energy efficiency measures to help fight rising costs, according to a recent Johnson Controls press release.

GAS PRICES CAUSING SHIFTS IN VEHICLE PURCHASES, SAYS J.D. POWER

Rising gasoline prices have some owners of large and midsize trucks trading to smaller vehicles, according to J.D. Power and Associates, which uses real-time retail transaction data from its Power Information Network (PIN) to gather figures. In a recent press release, it said gasoline prices have surged more than $.20 in recent weeks to a record nationwide average of $3.10 per gallon, surpassing the previous record of $3.07 per gallon set in September 2005, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

UPCOMING VEHICLE PRODUCTION PLANS FORECASTED

Despite pumped-up production schedules in recent weeks, North American June output will trail last year’s pace by 8.3%, according to a recent WardsAuto.com article. Ward’s Auto forecasts manufacturers will assemble 1,394,600 vehicles next month based on 21 production days, somewhat under the industry’s planned 1,403,000 units. Output in like-2006 totaled 1,521,101 units, with one additional production day.

HONDA PRODUCTION FUEL-CELL SEDAN

Honda says it will put a sleek hydrogen fuel-cell sedan into limited production next year and will sell a unique mass-market hybrid in the United States within two years. It will be priced less than the $25,000 Civic hybrid.

AUTOS MORE AFFORDABLE—HOW THIS AFFECTS YOU

So how much money will consumers have in their pockets after purchasing a new vehicle? According to the “Auto Affordability Index” compiled by Comerica Bank, the purchase of an average-priced new vehicle took 24.7 weeks of median family income in the first quarter. This is down 1.5 weeks from the fourth quarter, and is also down 0.5 weeks compared to a year ago. This means that consumers have more discretionary income in their pockets to purchase specialty-equipment parts and accessories. 

HOW DOES FEAR AND GREED IMPACT YOUR CUSTOMERS' DECISIONS?

All buying decisions are made based on emotion, as are all decisions NOT to buy, according to Larry Merserearu—small business consultant, speaker and author in the field of marketing and promotion.

Emotions fall under two general categories: fear and greed. Almost any product can be advertised using either emotion. But if you really want to get your prospects’ interest, fear is the more powerful of the two.

Give your products and services some thought. What will be better about your prospects’ lives after they start using them? Will they be healthier, wealthier, wiser?

VEHICLE ELECTRONICS MIGRATE TO SUSPENSION

Automakers continue to focus on new technologies that enhance driver safety. For example, electronic stability control is becoming more prevalent in the new vehicles released by the OEMs. In addition, automakers are now using electronically controlled suspensions to enhance consumers’ driving experience. For example, Tenneco Inc. recently announced that its Continuously Controlled Electronic Suspension (CES) system is featured on the new Mercedes-Benz C-Class launched in Stuttgart earlier this year.

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