Category: Auto XPRT Speaks…

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The all new Dodge Caliber is a good example of global cooperation in automotive product development. Caliber overcomes daunting challenges of cross-continent and cross-cultural communications.
Occupant fatality rates in all basic vehicle classes have been going down since 1997. The overall conclusion from the NHTSA Research Note is that "compact cars have the highest occupant fatality rate while the "large vans" category has the lowest occupancy fatality rate.
We have all been following the press accounts of Toyota becoming the top producing vehicle manufacturer in the world in 2006 and we have heard statements by Toyota management that Toyota is going to become more aggressive in the future. Historically, Toyota has taken a relatively humble and mild stance to its growing presence worldwide and in the USA particularly, but in 2003 the gloves came off with Toyota Motor Sales USA taking a higher profile. Their pace of advance will quicken substantially in 2006.
In an auto show season when the USA audience has the chance to see an all new (to the USA) Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lexus LS460, there is an opportunity to do some deep soul searching about the group of flagship sedans that top the car market in the USA. We include the Audi A8, BMW 7-Series, Infiniti Q45, Jaguar XJ, and Lexus LS in this group of excellent cars. We might reach downmarket a bit to the Acura RL and upwards a lot to the Bentley Continentals, but the key competitors are Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes. By far, the best seller has been the Lexus capturing 27% of the class in its last full year of production.
Simple, affordable Hyundai Santa Fe passes rental car test. High end German products fail. Are their engineers answering questions that no-one is asking?
If journalists are paying attention, there is no need for an SUV jihad. American automakers are responding to what the market wants and that is for more efficient SUVs that do not sacrifice around-town function but do not need off-road capability.
An article in the Saturday, November 19, 2005 Wall Street Journal projects that Toyota may overtake General Motors as the highest selling carmaker in 2006.
$1, $2, $3 for a gallon of gasoline. Is this a conspiracy on the part of the oil companies? VehicleVoice internet research shows American drivers pin much of the blame on high profits the major oil companies are getting.
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