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Chrysler To Refinance Debt, Repay Government Loans

By Chris Haak

Probably due to its much larger size, GM’s bailout and repayment of some government loans has drawn far more attention than the assistance provided to Chrysler has for the past several years.  Chrysler doesn’t even get the perk of a derogatory nickname like “Government Motors” has.

Former “Car Czar” Steven Rattner’s book described how the Obama administration was split nearly 50-50 on whether Chrysler was even worth rescuing, and not everyone is certain of the viability of the now Italian-American automaker in the coming years.

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Lexus Boss Mark Templin Predicts a Dismal Future For His Brand

By Chris Haak

Auto executives are, by nature, an optimistic bunch of people.  They’re always on the verge of catching onto the next big trend, of turning around operations, yadda yadda.  Therefore, I raised my eyebrows more than a little bit when I saw what Lexus general manager Mark Templin had to say about his brand’s future.  It wasn’t optimistic; it was downright melancholy.  , he conceded the luxury-vehicle sales crown for 2011 with seven- months remaining in the year.  The reason?

He’s blaming the Japanese earthquake, which has done great harm to the auto industry supply chain, but in particular, to Japanese auto manufacturers.  Many Japanese OEMs still are not running at full production, including heavyweights Honda and Toyota.  Toyota, in fact, said that it was not likely to resume normal production until November, a full eight months after the March earthquake.  Lexus is particularly affected, though, because the majority of the brand’s models, with the sole exception of the RX crossover, are built in Japan.  In post-tsunami Japan, local auto production is a disadvantage.

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New York 2011: Day One Wrap-Up and Gallery

By Chris Haak

There was too much to cover everything that happened in New York in separate articles, while still doing everything justice, so we’ll delve into some bullet points.  We already noted a few news items in the introductory post for day one, but let’s dig a big deeper into those.

Breakfast
The day began with the opening breakfast, and Nissan’s Chairman of the Americas, Carlos Tavares – a potential replacement for Renault’s newly-departed COO Patrick Pelata, who was taken down by that company’s spy scandal.  There wasn’t much to report from there, but Tavares did note that Nissan would resume accepting Leaf reservations in that car’s launch states on May 1.  He also added that the Infiniti JX crossover – which will be the brand’s first three-row crossover – will be produced in the US.  Tavares discussed some vehicle-production shifts that will move Frontier and XTerra production from Smyrna, Tennessee to Canton, Mississippi.  That will then allow the next-generation Rogue to shift production from Japan to Tennessee, which is part of Nissan’s plan to increase production in the Americas from 1.1 million units to 1.7 million units.  By 2015, 85 percent of Nissan vehicles sold in the Americas will be built here, up from 69 percent currently.

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Why Cars are Making Less Sense, and Why We Should Still Love Them

By James Wong

Cars are making a lot less sense to a lot more people.

This is true of nearly every society which faces urbanisation, which will inevitably lead to denser living.

In the United States, the massive urban sprawls of major cities are causing huge traffic jams that head into the city from a large urban catchment area (think Los Angeles). Beijing in China is still desperately trying to find answers to the eventuality that its whole middle class would be buying and driving cars. It can no longer rely on its current infrastructure which was built when everyone was still on bicycles. Even at this stage, which is only the beginning of the rise of the middle class, Beijing’s roads are already facing huge gridlocks. In Europe, stricter emissions regulations mean that cars are increasingly being powered by alternative energies – diesel, hybrid or electric.  Not so good news for keen drivers.

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What Effect Will Rising Gasoline Prices Have on the Auto Industry?

By Chris Haak

That retail gasoline prices have been on the rise over the past few months, and that crude oil is concurrently on the march.  You may have also heard something about a war in Libya, an oil-exporting state in the Middle East.  Crude oil, which hit an all-time high of $147.27 per barrel on July 11, 2008, only to collapse to less than a third of that just a few months later, is now about $110 per barrel.

However, that’s about 32 percent below that July 2008 high.  News out of the most-recent Lundberg Survey of nationwide gasoline prices found that the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular is $3.76.  Three weeks ago, the previous Lundberg Survey found that the average price was $3.57.  A similar $0.19 gain in the coming three weeks would put gasoline prices at $3.95 per gallon.  Even so, Trilby Lundberg, the survey’s publisher, noted that even $3.76 is “within striking distance” of the record.  Indeed, that’s just 9.3 percent below it.

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Good News and Bad News for Speed Lovers
Apr08

Good News and Bad News for Speed Lovers

By Chris Haak

According to , Texas lawmakers are considering raising that state’s maximum speed limit to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h) on the wide-open, sparsely-populated sections of the biggest state in the contiguous United States.

While 85 MPH may sound fast – and it is – the change is not as dramatic as one might think.  Texas already has about 520 miles of Interstates where it’s legal to travel 80 MPH.  The change, if approved, would only raise the limit by five miles per hour.  The bill has already been approved by the Texas House, and it’s now being considered by the Texas Senate.  TDB reports that the Senate is leaning toward approving it, as is Governor Rick Perry (R) as well.

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