Wednesday, May 25, 2011

GM Adding Production Jobs

General Motors has announced that it will create 2,500 jobs at a Detroit-area plant that produces electric cars, an investment that will total $69 million and enable production of two new Chevrolet sedans.

The plant makes the Chevy Volt and its European counterpart, the Opel Ampera.
But GM says it will give the plant the ability to make the new Malibu midsize car and a revamped Impala.
About 1,200 of the jobs will be new hires, as GM will recall about 1,300 laid-off workers in the U.S.
GM said this month that it would create or keep about 4,000 jobs by investing $2 billion in 17 factories in eight states.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Three the Easy Way: Cars that are Inexpensive to Own, Operate

Hyundai Accent GL 2dr hatch

Market price: $9,677
5-Year fuel cost: $8,085
5-Year insurance cost: $5,134
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $26,715
 For under $11,000, the Accent gets great fuel economy of 34 mpg on the highway and 28 in the city. Even on the base model, optional equipment includes an iPod hookup ($35) and Bluetooth ($325). Six airbags are standard, but there’s no option for ABS.
Depreciation: $7,748 Fees & taxes: $822 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,207 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $423 Maintenance: $1,795 Repairs: $1,500

Ford Fiesta S 4dr

Market price: $13,212
5-Year fuel cost: $7,576
5-Year insurance cost: $5,623
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $28,402
 The return of the Fiesta to Ford’s lineup brings serious value -- and premium-car amenities -- to the compact category. A low price meets a peppy engine, an ultra-smooth manual transmission, and terrific handling. The SE trim offers Ford’s SYNC system (to connect phones and music players) as a $665 option. Even the entry-level Fiesta boasts a full complement of safety equipment: seven airbags (including a driver’s knee airbag), ABS, stability control and traction control. Mileage is 28 city, 37 highway.
Depreciation: $8,919 Fees & taxes: $1,063 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,690 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $467 Maintenance: $1,564 Repairs: $1,500

Mazda2 Sport 4dr hatch

Market price: $14,625
5-Year fuel cost: $7,825
5-Year insurance cost: $5,630
Total 5-Year ownership cost: $28,593
 Its design is unmistakably Mazda, but the Mazda2 isn’t just a downsizedMazda3. Built on the same platform as the Ford Fiesta, this sporty hatch handles wonderfully and has a full line of standard safety equipment-- ABS, stability and traction control, and six airbags. Mileage is 29 city, 35 highway.
Depreciation: $8,405 Fees & taxes: $1,139 Financing 5-year loan at 5.95%: $1,864 Opportunity cost of a 15% down payment: $490 Maintenance: $1,613 Repairs: $1,627

Friday, May 6, 2011

Style and Substance: The Infiniti FX 35

Sportscar-like driving combines with SUV-like versatility in the 2011 Infiniti FX35.

The FX35 has a 303-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 engine linked to a seven-speed automatic transmission with auto-manual mode.  Standard rear-wheel-drive or optional all-wheel-drive are available. The FX35 gets 16 mpg in the city and 21-23 mpg on the highway. Infiniti says the all-wheel-drive version tows up to 2,000 pounds. 

The FX35's sweeping exterior styling is distinctive, with its elongated narrow hood, bi-xenon headlights and functional side air vents.  The FX35 has 18-inch alloy wheels standard, with 20-inchers are optional.  Infiniti says a key addition for 2011 is a power liftgate for added convenience. 

The interior is quite refined, with its power leather front seats, a reclining rear seat, dual-zone climate control and optional heated/cooled front seats.  Infiniti says maximum cargo capacity is 62 cubic feet with rear seats stowed.  Other features include Bluetooth connectivity and a USB port with an MP3 interface that are standard, while a hard drive navigation system with voice recognition, XM NavTraffic, a Bose audio system with 11 speakers, and a 9.3GB Music Box hard drive are optional.

For safety, there's an around-view monitor system, which utilizes several cameras for an overhead view of the SUV's perimeter, and a lane departure prevention system.  Infiniti says its Distance Control Technology helps keep an adequate distance between you and the car in front of you while in cruise control.  There is also adaptive cruise control and a forward-warning system, which applies the brakes in the event of an impending collision, which are optional.  Active head restraints, side-impact airbags for the front seats, side-curtain airbags for both rows, traction control, an electronic stability system, and four-wheel antilock disc brakes are each standard.

Priced from $43,000 to around $49,000, the FX is competitive with the sticker prices of other luxury SUVs.

With its sportiness and versatility, the FX 35 offers plenty of style and substance.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

GM Sees Highest Earnings in More Than 10 Years

General Motors posted its largest quarterly profit in more than 10 years, thanks to fuel-efficient cars and smaller SUVs that have become more popular as gas prices have risen steadily. 
GM said Thursday its earnings were $3.2 billion, or $1.77 per share, in the first quarter. 
GM's Detroit rivals, Ford and Chrysler, also have posted strong earnings as the U.S. auto industry is recovering from its near-death experience of a few years ago.  
GM got a lift from its new small car, the Chevrolet Cruze, and from crossover SUVs such as the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain, which offer better fuel economy than traditional large SUVs. Revenue was up 15 percent to $36.2 billion, thanks to a 25 percent gain in U.S. sales and a 10 percent hike in China, GM's biggest market. Experts say GM's sales are likely to carry it back to the top of the world auto industry, a position it lost to Toyota. 
The funny thing about this is the U.S. automakers used to claim that there is no way they could be profitable making fuel-efficient vehicles. Never mind the fact that their Japanese rivals were kicking their rear ends by doing just that. 
Now, it seems, the U.S. companies finally get it. If you want to have success in the auto industry, give customers reliable cars that are fuel-efficient and suit their lifestyle needs.