The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recently released a major study regarding death rates from auto accidents, and while the results are not unexpected, they do provide some context for the (relatively) current state of vehicular safety.
According to the IIHS, the number of driver deaths per million vehicles registered in the U.S. has fallen from 110 for 1989-1993 models, to 87 for 1999-2002 models, to 79 for 2002-2005 models, to 48 in the most current study, which looked at vehicles from the 2005-2008 model years that were sold during calendar years 2006-2009. That’s a pretty dramatic decline, and the IIHS says most of it has to do with two semi-related factors. First, a number of smaller, rollover-prone SUVs from the IIHS’ first death-rate studies dropped out of production, and second, more and more of the newer sport utilities gained electronic stability control, an important technology for reducing these kinds of accidents.
By Carl Malek
BMW of North America has formally taken the curtains off of its latest special edition BMW M3 Coupe. Officially known as the BMW M3 Frozen Black Edition, this car is not only a sequel to the equally stunning Frozen Gray edition, but it also offers many of the same features and upgrades that made the Frozen Gray edition a must-have purchase for BMW M enthusiasts last year.
By Chris Haak
The Japanese Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (JAMA) and the Confederation of Japan Automobile Workers’ Unions (CJAWU) released a joint statement yesterday demanding that the Japanese government take immediate steps to reduce the strength of the yen. The current exchange rate between the yen and dollar is about ¥80 per $1 USD. Three years ago, it was ¥110 per $1 USD, so it’s gained 27 percent on the dollar in a fairly short timeframe. (A lower yen-per-dollar number means a stronger yen.)
By Kevin Miller
In January of this year, Chrysler Brand CEO Olivier Francois channeled Eminem on Chrysler’s stage at Cobo hall when he introduced the new 300; the rap didn’t roll off of his tongue and I found it painful to watch. When the new 300 rolled out onto the stage, I was not that excited; it looked to me like just another big fat 300. After a quick peek, I lost interest and explored other stands in Detroit. Eminem meme not withstanding, I think I should have been paying better attention to Francois that day in Detroit.
By Chris Haak
Yesterday in New York, Ford Motor Company executives told reporters and investors that the company expected to increase its global sales by 50 percent by 2015 to around 8 million units. In 2010, Ford sold about 5.3 million units globally. Ford will need to average 8.58 percent global sales growth during each of the next five years in order to hit that number.
Hitting their number would not only be a huge accomplishment for Ford, but would also put the company in the top tier of global automakers. Toyota, the world’s largest automaker by sales in 2010, sold 8.42 million vehicles, with GM’s global sales just 30,000 units behind. Volkswagen rounded out the top three with 7.14 million units. Of course, Ford’s 2015 sales ranking depends not only on what Ford can do, but also on what its competitors do. There are only so many sales to be found worldwide, and everyone wants a bigger slice of a pie.
By Carl Malek
BMW Group has released the official details on the soon-to-be-released MINI Cooper Coupe. The company claims that the MINI Coupe is a model that has been bestowed with “go kart like handling” which has become a signature selling point of the brand’s recent models. Unfortunately MINI chose to feature a prototype vehicle in the official photos that still sports a disguise in the rear, which makes any final judgments on the styling very difficult. Despite this final bit of camouflage, the majority of the design that is visible is quite handsome and it also makes the coupe look much more aggressive than its fellow MINI siblings. MINI also says that the new coupe is going to be a class leader in the sport compact segment, but whether the MINI Cooper Coupe can live up to this bold claim or help increase the brand’s slow sales remains to be seen.
By Chris Haak
In our recent review of the Audi A5, Kevin Miller talked about some of the “forbidden fruit” of European cars that aren’t sold in the US, but coveted by gearheads on this side of the pond. In most cases, European cars adapted for sale in the US have had a pretty poor record of success. A few examples are the Merkur XR4Ti and Scorpio, Cadillac Catera, Saturn Astra, and Ford Contour. For every trans-oceanic transplant that does OK in the US (Euro Accord/Acura TSX) there are five examples of cars that didn’t hit the “OK” threshold.
By Chris Haak
Way back in the 2007 model year, you may recall that things looked quite different in the auto industry. Neither GM nor Chrysler had declared bankruptcy; GM was still the world’s largest automaker. Ford had just bet the company that its latest restructuring would fix their problem once and for all. Toyota was on a seemingly unstoppable roll, with month upon month of increasing sales (often at a clip of 10 percent over the year-earlier period).
There were certainly storm clouds on the horizon for the Detroit Three. GM, Ford, and Chrysler were losing money, the credit markets were drying up, and there was a major threat brewing against the last bastion of US automakers: the full-size pickup.