Edition: July 2012 - Vol 20 Number 07
Article#: 4021
Author: Repertoire

Redesigns spell good prices for car buyers

Auto sales are rebounding due to the plethora of redesigns and new introductions during the last few years, according to Kelley Blue Book. Shoppers in the market for a new-car bargain who don’t care about owning the most up-to-date body style on the road can find great deals on models headed for a redesign this fall, according to the company. Strong sales of popular models including the Toyota Camry, Hyundai Sonata, Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus and Honda CR-V all are the result of strong redesigns in the last few years. However, with the most in-demand vehicles, consumers can expect to pay close to the manufacturer’s suggested retail price with little or no cash rebate available. Kelley Blue Book found three discounted new compact cars, compact crossovers and mid-size cars heading for a redesign and offering big discounts. The Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Chevrolet Malibu were available at press time with more than $4,000 in savings after rebates. The Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla also were expected to be redesigned sometime in the next year, and currently are available at more than $2,000 off the sticker price.

Fuel economy top consideration

Thirty-seven percent of consumers surveyed by Consumer Reports said their leading consideration when shopping for their next car will be fuel economy. A distant second was quality (17 percent) followed by safety (16 percent), value (14 percent) and performance (6 percent). Two-thirds of owners surveyed said they expected their next vehicle to get better fuel mileage than the one they’re driving now. Although gasoline costs (90 percent) were the No. 1 reason cited for wanting a more fuel-efficient vehicle, more than half of respondents also had other reasons, including a desire to be more environmentally friendly (62 percent) and concern about dependence on foreign oil (56 percent). In all, nearly three quarters (73 percent) of participants said they would consider some type of alternatively fueled vehicle, with flex-fuel (which can run on E85 ethanol) and hybrid models leading the way. Younger buyers were more likely to consider an alternative-fuel or purely electric vehicle than drivers over the age of 55.

OnStar boasts 14 million interactions

More than 821,000 active users of OnStar’s RemoteLink mobile app have checked their tire pressure and how much gas is in their tank, and unlocked their doors as part of the more than 14 million interactions that have occurred since the app debuted in 2010, according to OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors. The app, written using HTML5 technology, has been available for iPhone and Android smartphones, but is now available in BlackBerry App World™ for BlackBerry® Bold™ 9900 and 9930 users. In addition to offering information such as oil level and tire pressure, the app also offers users remote commands, including remote start, door lock/unlock and horn/light activation.

Tsunami Harley-Davidson on display

A Harley-Davidson motorcycle recovered on the coast of British Columbia after drifting for more than a year and 4,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean following last year’s Japanese tsunami will be preserved by the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee as a memorial to the tragedy that claimed more than 15,000 lives, in accordance with the wishes of its owner, Ikuo Yokoyama. The story of the 2004 FXSTB Softail Night Train motorcycle’s survival and recovery by Canadian Peter Mark made international headlines after he found it washed ashore on a remote beach on British Columbia’s Graham Island at low tide. Mark discovered the motorcycle, still bearing its Japanese license plate, along with several other items in the remains of an insulated cargo van container where the motorcycle was being stored by Yokoyama prior to the tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011.

Self-driving car not far off?

Anthony Levandowski, head of Google Inc.’s project to develop software and sensors to allow vehicles to drive themselves, was in Detroit in May to send a message that the Internet company is looking for partners to bring its innovations to market, according to the New York Times. Google still needs to do “millions of miles” of testing before it is ready to offer a self-driving car system for sale, Levandowski was quoted as saying. The company also was discussing with insurers how to address the liability issues raised by self-driving cars. Levandowski said he expects a system could be ready “much sooner than the next decade. If not, shame on us as engineers.”

Ten cheapest cars

Kiplinger has rated the 10 cheapest cars to own. All the vehicles on the list are small – either compacts or subcompacts – because they tend to have the lowest market price, the best fuel economy, and reasonable insurance rates, since premiums tend to rise with horsepower, according to the company. With the lower-price class, owners may have to pay extra for automatic transmission, air conditioning and sometimes even a radio, not to mention such safety features as anti-lock brakes. Most are equipped with standard air bags but only half have standard stability control. Here are the ten cheapest cars to own, including the total five-year ownership cost:

Nissan Versa 1.6 Base 4dr ($26,233),

Hyundai Accent GL 2dr hatch ($26,715),

Chevrolet Aveo5 LS 4dr hatch ($26,958),

Ford Fiesta S 4dr ($28,402),

Mazda2 Sport 4dr hatch ($28,593),

Toyota Yaris 4dr ($28,616),

Kia Rio 4dr ($29,157),

Kia Soul 4dr hatch ($29,275),

Honda Insight 4dr hatch ($29,953),

Ford Focus S 4dr ($30,290).