Archive for January, 2009

Jason Statham stars in Audi Super Bowl ad

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Audi will be one of the few car makers to run an ad during this year’s Super Bowl broadcast with a spot starring action star Jason Statham who said he’s happy to be the face of the brand.

The 60 second advertisement which will air during the first quarter of Sunday’s game will show the Transporter star attempting to make getaways in recreations of movie scenes from different decades.

All the attempts fail as the cars from past eras cannot handle the action, sending Statham flying through billboards and crashing into sidewalks. It’s not until he gets into the new Audi A6 that Statham successfully makes his getaway.

“I’m quite happy to put my face up against a brand that I believe in and that I drive around in anyway,” Statham told USA Today.

Because Audi is one of only three car makers who will be seen during the advertising of the Super Bowl, the company says it expects to gain an advantage on competitors.

“Last year’s spot sent the message that Audi was truly redefining luxury. This year’s spot will ensure that everyone realizes that Audi is the best choice, period,” said Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer of Audi of America.

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Google Street View vehicle hits deer

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Google has made it easier for people to get from point A to point B with their Street View technology which has a vehicle drive across U.S. roadways taking panoramic photos of streets.

Unfortunately this vehicle can sometimes get in an accident, and apparently when it happens, Google doesn’t want people to see.

While photographing roads in upstate New York, the Google vehicle hit a deer as it crossed a rural road, killing the deer while recording the action. It appears that not many people noticed the accident on Street View until this week when it appeared all over the internet.

The photographs originally showed the car driving south on Five Points Road in Rush, NY when a small deer begins to walk across the street. Another photo appeared to show the deer attempting to jump out of the way of the car and a final photo showed the animal on the side of the road.

The street view for that area is no longer available.

In a response issued yesterday, Google confirmed that one of its vehicles had hit a deer, but says the images were removed after the company received numerous requests.

“We’re sad that this accident occurred and we consider ourselves fortunate that our driver was not injured,” the company said.

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Frozen car gets fined

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Apparently the city of Cleveland, Ohio takes its parking situations very seriously as a man whose car was frozen to the street following a broken water pipe received a ticket and had his car hauled off to an impound lot.

When Gary Luke walked out to his Nissan Altima yesterday morning he found it covered in three inches of ice and more than a foot of ice burying his tires.

It appears that a water main had burst overnight, covering the car with freezing water and causing passing motorists to splash the car with the river that was now running down his street.

“I know it’s Cleveland in the wintertime, but I never expected this,” Luke told the Plain Dealer.

Luke told the paper that AAA said he would have to wait until the weather warmed up to get his car out of the predicament, but that didn’t stop police from trying – and succeeding.

According to the news provider, police were clearing cars parked on Luke’s street Thursday night and had a tow truck work to remove the Altima from its icy encasement. For his trouble, Luke received a $50 ticket and must now pay to have his car removed from impound.

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Dodge Ram wins International Truck of the Year

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Earlier this month the Dodge Ram 1500 won the award for International Truck of the Year by jurors for the International Car of The Year (ICOTY), beating out competition from the Ford F-150 and Toyota Tacoma.

“We’re glad third-party organizations including ICOTY recognize Dodge Ram’s game-changing innovations, functionality, safety and value,” said Scott Kunselman of Chrysler.

The Truck of the Year honor is just one of a handful or awards the Dodge Ram has walked home with including awards from Edmunds, Truckin’ magazine and various other publications.

Jeff Taylor, auto writer for the Chicago Sun-Times said the Ram is the “personal use champ” when it comes to trucks in its class, taking the title away from the Toyota Tacoma.

Although he says a number of other trucks on the market have their advantages, Taylor thinks the Ram is perfect for those who will be using it on a regular basis for more everyday tasks.

“My assessment is based strictly on personal use including; commuting, carting around the entire family, carrying home construction materials, hauling bicycles and moving assorted boxes during the review period,” he writes.

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Amanda Bynes sued over car wreck

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Hairspray star Amanda Bynes is being sued for hospital bills and damages resulting from a four car pileup that occurred in 2007 which left one motorist with minor injuries.

David Feldman, the attorney for Bynes told TMZ that when the accident occurred the cars in question were only traveling around 5 miles per hour – calling it a minor fender bender.

He also said the lawsuit, being filed by Shari Landon, was filed on the last possible day and that Bynes had never been notified of any injuries. Landon is also suing two other drivers along with rental car company Hertz.

Bynes was also involved in a multi-car accident in August of last year.

It was recently reported that Bynes had split from her boyfriend Doug Reinhardt, who was often featured on the MTV reality drama The Hills.

Reinhardt had previously been linked to reality star Lauren Conrad.

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BMW to produce hybrid supercar

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Reports say that BMW will be bringing its 400 horsepower hybrid car, the Z10 ED – which was originally planned as only a concept – to market.

According to Autocar.co.uk, the company decided to remove the car from concept status to production after plans to produce a V10-powered rival to the Audi R8 were scrapped. Instead, the company decided to go the environmentally-friendly approach.

“The idea is to bring all the very latest technology together in a way that will allow a high level of performance without overburdening the environment in a way that the current crop of supercars do,” an insider told the website. “There is no reason why they need to be mutually exclusive when you consider the sort of technology that exists today. It is just a matter of applying it correctly.”

The two-seater is expected to sell for about $105,000.

At this year’s North American Auto show, BWM unveiled two hybrid concepts which included the X6 which can run on gas, electric, or a combination of the two.

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2010 Prius will get 50 mpg

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Toyota says it’s next generation Prius is likely to get upwards of 50 miles per gallon when it goes on sale later this year.

Although the Prius was a niche vehicle when it was first introduced, it has since become the go-to hybrid vehicle for the environmentally friendly. Bob Carter, Toyota’s vice president and general manager says the company has seen the change and is attempting to shift to meet needs.

“Since Prius was first introduced, the consumer demographic has shifted from an early adopter to a mainstream shopper,” Bob Carter, Toyota Division group vice president and general manager said. “The Prius has evolved to meet the changing needs of this growing and diverse customer base.”

Although Toyota has had the market share on hybrids, many companies have either brought a competitive hybrid to market, or will be introducing one soon. Many in the industry feel the Honda Insight is the first real competitor to Prius’ spot as the top hybrid.

But Toyota president Jim Lentz told the Associated Press that while the Insight will gain some buyers because of its low price, the Prius will still have an edge.

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Government vehicle database unveils tomorrow

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Tomorrow the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) will be unveiling its new system which will allow consumers to get information on the history of a used car.

The system, called the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NVTIS) will be accessible to the public tomorrow and will allow prospective used car buyers to access the history of a car including its odometer data and title record if available.

Currently 27 states participate in the program with another 10 working towards participation according to the DoJ.

The NVTIS says there are about 300 million vehicle identification numbers in the system with 27 states currently participating in the program with another 10 working towards participation. About 75 percent of all vehicles in the country are accounted for.

The states that are not releasing data to the system have cited privacy laws for their lack of participation.

Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) said the NVTIS system is a first step.

“We’re not at the end of the road,” she told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “But we have gotten over some huge roadblocks.”

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Used cars with modifications might be harder to insure

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

Having a tricked-out car with 20 inch rims and expensive audio equipment attracts attention, but according to many insurance companies it’s the wrong kind of attention, making it less likely to get coverage.

According to Insure.com, because the equipment in many of these used cars is worth more than the purchase price of the vehicle and because owners of these cars are often thought to drive recklessly, even if they can get insurance it’s going to cost quite a bit of money.

As an example, the company uses a 1993 Toyota Supra, which was purchased for $7,000. After adding a 600 horsepower engine, custom paint job, $30,000 in stereo components and other various modifications it’s likely the total price can be somewhere near $130,000.

“Your estimated annual premium would be $2,000 to $2,500,” says the company. “and that’s assuming you have a clean driving record.”

That’s also assuming you can get coverage at all. Jim Kreisman, owner of Insurance Agency Inc., says he’s probably not going to insure a car like that.

“We’ll insure Ferraris and Bentleys, but souped-up cars? We won’t [insure] them. They are too high risk,” he says.

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State to crack down on used car tax avoiders

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

In an effort to ease some budget problems in the state, New Mexico is planning to target people who attempt to avoid paying taxes on the sale of their used car.

New Mexico imposes a 3 percent tax on the sale of used cars, but to avoid that cost, some buyers writer a lower purchaser price on the car’s title when they take it to the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) for registration.

To fight this, New Mexico authorities will compare the purchase price with the vehicle with the “average trade-in” value set by the National Automotive Dealers Association, according to the Associated Press.

“This is a way to make sure everybody is paying their fair share,” Taxation and Revenue Secretary Rick Homans told the news provider.

The MVD expects to take in $6 million this year and another $12 million next year by verifying the prices.

In a similar effort, the IRS over the last few years has stiffened laws to make sure donated vehicles are actually worth the amount claimed in tax forms.

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States issuing more moving violations as budgets shrink

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

A struggling economy is having many local communities come up with creative ways to increase their budgets, and for many that means having police issue more traffic tickets.

According to Car and Driver magazine, 11 municipalities in the Detroit area have seen the number of tickets issued increase by 90 percent or more since 2002.

While most law enforcement would say that the issuing of tickets is not a way to make money for a community, James Tignanelli, president of the Police Officers Association of Michigan says that’s just not that case.

“A lot of police chiefs will tell you the goal is to have nobody speeding through their community, but heaven forbid if it should actually happen – they’d be out of money,” Tignanelli told the magazine.

But the increase in police issuing moving violations is not limited to Michigan.

Even in the tiny state of Connecticut, police issued 10,500 more tickets in 2008 than the previous year – meaning $327,000 more for the state, according to the Republican American.

But unlike Tignanelli, Connecticut says there is no connection between the state of the economy and the increase in tickets.

“There is no relation at all,” state police spokesperson Lieutenant J. Paul Vance told the newspaper.

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German driver flies car into church roof

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Last week it was announced that a Massachusetts company would be bringing a flying car to market in 2010, but a German man who drove his car into a church roof obviously couldn’t wait that long.

At about 11pm, the 23-year-old driver in eastern Germany, about 2 hours south of Berlin, missed a turn while driving his Skoda Octavia and hit an embankment, sending the car 115 feet in the air and landing on the Lutheran church’s roof about 23 feet in the air.

Police said the embankment acted as a ski jump, sending the driver flying almost 40 yards through the air.

“We’ve never ever had a case of a car landing in a church before,” said Frank Fischer, a spokesman for Chemnitz police in the state of Saxony.

Police estimated the damage to the car totaled about 10,000 euros ($13,000) but an estimate for the damage to the church had yet to be determined.

A crane needed to be brought in to remove both the car and the driver from the roof. The driver was taken to the hospital for injuries which police said were not life threatening.

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The worst “best” cars of all time

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Automotive magazines love to create lists for the top cars of the year, but even they can get it wrong. Car and Driver.com has put together a list of some of the worst “best” picks of all time.

In 1980, Motor Trend named the Chevrolet Citation its “Car of the Year.” The Citation was one of several so called “X-cars” which were thought to be a rival to the upcoming Japanese revolution, which included the Honda Accord. Things went wrong for the car almost from the beginning.

“While staring down 60 -month payment books, Citation owners were having trim bits fall off in their hands, hearing their transmissions groan and seize, and finding that if they listened closely enough they could hear their cars rust,” writes Car and Driver.com.

In more recent year, Motor Trend picked the Ford Thunderbird as its top car for 2002. Ford re-released the popular 1950s Thunderbird to much acclaim but the website says cheap engineering marked the downfall for the car. According to the site, only 19,085 cars were sold the first year and the car was discontinued in 2005.

Even a venerated Ford model makes this list with Motor Trend picking the Mustang II as the best car for 1974. Unfortunately for Mustang lovers, this car was nothing more than a Pinto with a Mustang logo according to the website.

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Used car prices continue dropping

Monday, January 26th, 2009

While news on the economic situation continues to be bleak, new figures show that people in the market for a used car will get a lot more for their money.

According to the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA), prices on used cars fell in every market during 2008, and prices this year are likely to follow economic circumstances said Terrence W. Wynne, director of editorial services for NADA Used Car Guide

“The past year was characterized by extreme volatility in used-vehicle prices and economic uncertainty,” Wynne said. “The degree and direction of price movements will be influenced by how the economy and this industry perform.”

It is also expected that gas prices will heavily influence the prices of used vehicles, especially truck and SUVs.

It appears that while cars have seen their prices drop significantly in the past few months, larger vehicles have actually increased in price.

In an example of the fluctuation, Automotive News says a 2007 Toyota Corolla LE which was selling for $12,700 in October is now going for $10,000 while a 2007 Chevy Suburban LS that was $21,725 three months ago is now slightly higher at $22,200.

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Used car buying tips

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Although many people say 2009 is a good time to buy a used car especially in the down economy, looking for a used car can be slightly more difficult as prices and conditions can range. But U.S. News and World Report have listed some tips that every used car buyer should know.

One of the things the magazine wants people to know is that there are deals to be had on used cars, they’re just not as publicized as new car deals. This can make the already less expensive purchase even cheaper.

It’s also sometimes possible to get a used car with some of the original warranty still intact.

“A risk you take when buying a used car is that someone else has owned the car, and you don’t know how they cared for it,” says the magazine. “Look at a used car’s warranty as closely as you look at the car itself. Know how many miles or years are left on it, and see if any aftermarket modifications the previous owner made could have voided the warranty.”

Another good idea for used car shoppers is to do some research on the internet before deciding on a purchase. A recent survey from Carfax found that 75 percent of buyers were influenced by the company’s vehicle history report.

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Carfax reports influence 75 percent of used car shoppers

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

It seems that used car buyers are more internet savvy than ever with a reported 75 percent of website walk-in shoppers saying a Carfax report influenced their purchase.

Cars.com and Carfax renewed their partnership earlier this week which will allow users to view Carfax reports directly from the Cars.com website.

Carfax communications director Larry Gamache says the relationship is beneficial as more and more people go to the web as their first place to research a car purchase.

“More used car shoppers than ever start their search on the Internet,” said Gamache. “Online shoppers can evaluate hundreds of cars at multiple dealer locations. Continuing our partnership with Cars.com ensures that our dealer customers have the necessary resources to turn more online shoppers into in-store buyers.”

By typing in the vehicle identification number of a car a driver is thinking of purchasing, a user can get a full history of the car in question which can help them determine if the car is a good purchase or not.

Cars.com says it has been offering the Carfax report free of change since 2005.

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Luxury used cars for under $30,000

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

Most people, especially in today’s economy, would think that buying a luxury car is out of their price range. But AOL Autos says there are a number of luxury used cars that can be had for under $30,000.

The website lists a number of Acuras including the 2005-2006 MDX, the 2007 RDX and the 2006-2007 TL, which it says used car buyers might be able to find in the Type S package featuring a 286 horsepower, 3.5 liter engine.

A new fully loaded Infinity G35 is going to go for over $40,000, but AOL Autos says a slightly used version is going to dramatically cut down on price and while it’s a sedan, it still has some considerable power with the manual boasting 298 horsepower.

According to the website the one luxury used car that can do no wrong is a Lexus of any kind.

“Bottom line, given the [Lexus’] reputation for high-end luxury, quality and long-term dependability, it’s hard to go wrong with any of the above-named Lexus entries,” said the website. “And all have plenty of engine oomph and luxo-line amenities.”

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Arizona county to stop using speed cameras

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

In what should be good news to most drivers in areas where speed cameras exist, an Arizona county has decided to stop using the devices saying they “failed miserably.”

Saying the fines issued using the cameras only resulted in a “paltry” profit and citing a 16 percent increase in accidents during the use of the cameras, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said the county was shelving the program even before the contract is up next month.

“I’m against photo speed enforcement completely,” Babeu told Pinal County supervisors this week according to the Arizona Republic.

The paper says that the county’s contract with the company that operates the cameras does not expire until February 20th, but the vans that hold the cameras have not been used since Babeu took office on January 1st.

But for Arizona drivers who hate seeing cameras on the road, the joy in the speed cameras’ failure might be short lived. The Arizona Republic says the sheriff is looking into the possibility of installing red-light cameras in the county.

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