- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

Auto industry rated ‘awash with deals’

While tough-to-get credit and a sinking economy are keeping many consumers out of car showrooms, those able to buy are in a prime position, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“The affordability index for the auto industry is at its best level in 28 years,” said Bob Carter, group vice president for Toyota Motor Corp.’s Toyota Division. “Buyers are in the driver’s seat in a market that’s awash with deals.”

Vespa rolls out interactive site

Want to plot and post favorite routes, trace your ride´s roots, calculate fuel savings and discover new reasons to ride a scooter? Vespa asks you to take a look at it’s new interactive Web site at www.vespausa.com.

Every element of the new site, from the latest product news to user-generated favorite riding routes, has been designed to educate and engage visitors while giving them reasons to return.

“The Vespa brand appeals to both the emotional and rational side of the brain, and the new site offers a world of content that speaks to both,” said Paolo Timoni, President and CEO, Piaggio Group Americas, Inc. “With more consumers than ever considering a scooter as a personal transportation option, we have created a one-stop resource center that provides all the tools, information and inspiration any consumer needs to join the nation´s rapidly growing scooter community.”

Autocar recognizes Hyundai-Kiasuccess

The United Kingdom´s oldest motoring magazine, Autocar, has named Hyundai-Kia as its car company of the year at its annual award ceremony in London.

The event is widely considered Europe´s most prestigious industry-merit ceremony and is when the European Car of the Year Award winner is announced.

Citing the Korean giant´s “mind-blowing” ambition, Autocar Editor Chas Hallet presented the title to Nam-Yong Kim, president of Hyundai-Kia´s European Research and Development Center in Germany.

Mr. Hallett commented: “When the irrepressible Hyundai-Kia group started talking, just a few years ago, about wanting to become the world´s fifth-largest car company behind Toyota, GM, Ford and Audi-VW, many of us were skeptical.

“Then the Korean group got serious. They hatched a plan to assemble a European design and engineering team to conceive a range of models for Europe. Boldly, they challenged the VW Golf and Ford Focus head on, building cars that looked as good and worked as well - and offering them with a far longer warranty, just for good measure.

“They began to acquire a reputation as the Eastern marques that would bring forth bold design concepts, much as Citroen has been doing in Europe, and they built separate factories for Hyundai and Kia in lower-cost Eastern Europe, servicing both operations from handily placed engine and gearbox plants,” he added.

The product of a merger in 1998, Hyundai-Kia currently dominates the Korean domestic car market with an 80 percent share and this year became the world´s fifth-largest carmaker, according to Automotive News.

USDA to utilize hydrogen car

Over the next six months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will use a Chevrolet Equinox fuel-cell car on official business on Capitol Hill — petroleum free — while providing valuable real-world performance feedback to GM.

The vehicle is fueled with hydrogen, thus zero greenhouse gases are released. The only tailpipe emission is clean water vapor. GM says the USDA will build on findings through this market test and further demonstrate the need to develop a hydrogen infrastructure to support fueling these vehicles.

Some gas-saving tips for savvy drivers

Drivers can improve gas mileage by 2 to 3 miles per gallon by driving smoothly and attempting to avoid frequent stops.

By slowing down from 75 to 55 mph, motorists can boost mileage by as much as 30 percent. But the drag caused by a car carrier can reduce mileage by six miles per gallon.

Motorists should use regular gas whenever possible.

Finally, when idling for more than 30 seconds, smart drivers should turn off the engine.

NADA operates donation site

The National Automobile Dealers Association has an online vehicle donation site. Electronic visitors to www.NADAguides.com can click on the “take a shortcut” in the upper-right drop-down window and then click on “donate your vehicle” for more information.

A favorite charity can be selected from a list of accredited nonprofit organizations. NADA will assist with the paperwork. The NADA Web site also offers new- and used-car buying advice.

Mail items of interest to AutoNotes, care of Bill O’Brien, The Washington Times Copy Desk, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002, or send e-mail to [email protected]

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