HYUNDAI BREAKS INTO CR\’S TOP TEN Silverado lone US make among the best

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NEWSLETTER
www.washautopress.org March 2008




                                   HYUNDAI BREAKS INTO CR'S TOP TEN
                                   Silverado lone US make among the best

                                         Consumer Reports unveiled its 2008 Auto Issue      and braking, to fuel economy, noise-level measure-
                                   at the February WAPA meeting and for the first time      ments, and head light testing. Then CR analyzes reli-
                                   a Korean automaker made it into CR's Top Ten Picks,      ability data based on its Annual Car Reliability Survey
                                   claiming two spots with Hyundai's Elantra SE the top     covering 17 major trouble areas with feedback from
                                   small sedan and Hyundai's Santa Fe as the top mid-       over a million vehicle owners. CR bases its new car
                                   sized SUV. The Americans muscled their way back          reliability predictions on data from the three latest
                                   into the Top Ten circle with the Chevrolet Silverado     model years, provided the vehicle design hasn't
                                   1500 Crew Cab after a two year absence.                  changed. CR also adds in a composite of IIHS and
                                         CR's Top Ten Picks, which guides at lest 15 per-   NHTSA crash-test results.
                                   cent of consumers through their car buying process,            This year, to be considered for the top ten, each
                                   continued a two-year trend with Honda claiming the       vehicle had to have ESC either as standard equipment
                                   slot for best overall automaker based on road tests      or as a readily available option. That criteria gave the
                                   and predicted-reliability. However, not all Honda's      edge to the Honda Accord in the family sedan cate-
                                   lead their class. The CR-V was edged out by Toyota's     gory over the Nissan Altima which actually scored
                                   RAV4 and Toyota's Sienna bested the Honda Odyssey.       slightly higher in CR testing but offers ESC only as a
                                         CR buys 80 vehicles a year to put through 50       pricey option on the V6 and standard on the hybrid
                                   individual tests mostly preformed at its Auto Test       model, David Champion, CR director of automotive
                                   Center in Connecticut. Engineers and technicians put     testing said. The ESC system has the potential to cut
                                   2,000 miles on each test vehicle to break it in. Fol-    highway fatalities by one third, Champion said, mak-
                                   lowing the break-in period, each vehicle undergoes       ing it a critical safety choice for buyers.
                                   tests ranging from emergency handling, acceleration
                                                                                                  See Consumer Reports, page 2

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www.washautopress.org March 2008

                                     Consumer Reports
                                     (continued from page one)




                                        Lexus LS 460L took top honors in the luxury
                                   sedan category with a score of 99 out of 100, mak-
                                   ing it CR's highest rated vehicle. Calling it a de-
                                   light to drive, Champion revealed he got a ticket
                                   for speeding while testing the LS.
                                        The Infiniti G35 took the upscale sedan cate-
                                   gory for the second straight year with its "success-
                                   ful blend of sportiness and luxury."
                                        Mazda captured the fun-to-drive category                Rik Paul, CR Automotive Editor, outlines the
                                   with the Miata MX-5. It tied with the Porsche                publication's new Owner Cost Comparisons,
                                   Boxster in CR's test scoring but sells for half the          which show a cheaper car can cost more to
                                                                                                own than some higher-priced alternatives.
                                   price.
                                        Toyota swept the last three categories with
                                   the Rav4 in the small SUV category; the Toyota                 Consumer Reports readers surveyed said they spent
                                   Sienna in the minivan category and the Toyota Prius            more for a new-car warranty than they got back in
                                   in the green car category.                                     repair cost savings. The average warranty costs of
                                        This year, CR introduced a new owner-cost esti-           $1,000 gave back $700 in benefits. An additional 42
                                   mate which gives consumers an idea of what it will             percent of extended warranties were not used and
                                   cost to own a vehicle over five years in terms of de-          only about a third of all respondents used their plan
                                   preciation, fuel costs (at 12,000 miles a year), interest      to cover a serious problem. "Extended warranties sell
                                   on a five-year loan, insurance, maintenance and repair         costly `peace of mind' for repair nightmares that
                                   and sales tax. The analysis is based on an assumption          probably won't occur," said Paul. "Sellers know what
                                   that owners will trade in their vehicles after five years.     tends to break, and in most cases consumers are bet-
                                        Surprisingly, the magazine found that cheaper             ting against the house."
                                   cars can cost consumers more in the long run than a                   However, extended warranties were a better deal
                                   more expensive alternative. For example a $17,500              for consumers who bought cars scoring lower in CR's
                                   Mitsubishi Lancer could cost $5,000 less than a Mini           reliability ratings. But only 38 percent of those owners
                                   Cooper to drive home, but it will cost the owner               said they saved money. CR suggested that consumers
                                   $3,000 more to maintain over the next five years.              put the price of the extended warranty into a savings
                                   Rick Paul, CRs automotive editor, said the most ex-            account to cover unexpected repairs.
                                   pensive vehicle to run for five years is the Mercedes-                Overall Honda makes the best cars sold in the
                                   Benz S550 at about $101,750. The least expensive ve-           U.S.. according to the annual automaker report card
                                   hicle to run over five years was the Toyota Yaris with         in CR's auto issue. It is the second year that the
                                   manual transmission at about $23,250.                          magazine has issued the report card and the second
                                        In analyzing ownership costs, CR made some                time that Honda has won. Honda was followed
                                   notable discoveries. Most Lexus models have rela-              closely by Toyota and Subaru. Only Honda and
                                   tively high maintenance and repair costs primarily             Subaru have all of their models tested by CR on its
                                   due to maintenance despite excellent reliability. The          recommended list.
                                   Lexus ES350 costs an average of $2,300 in mainte-                     "I must say that GM and Ford have been making
                                   nance and repairs in the first five years, or about twice      significant progress recently," Champion said, adding
                                   what a consumer would pay for a Lincoln MKZ. The               that 93 percent of Ford vehicles have average or bet-
                                   Toyota Prius actually costs less to own than similar           ter reliability. GM has "improved tremendously as
                                   conventional models. The Prius costs about $7,500              well with their new products," such as the Chevrolet
                                   more to buy than a Chevrolet Cobalt but costs                  Malibu, Cadillac CTS and the Chevy Silverado named
                                   $2,000 less to maintain over five years. Asked about           as a class winner. "All have performed extremely well
                                   the battery life of the Prius, CR said that the batter-        in our testing. The big question with General Motors
                                   ies were holding up and the 2000 to 3000 owners in             is, is the reliability going to be there."
                                   the survey still had their original battery in the 2001               Chrysler on the other hand dropped further in
                                   models.                                                        CR ratings, "due to a number of unimpressive new
                                        A new Consumer Reports Survey shows that                  vehicles" that CR tagged as noisy with underpowered
                                   extended auto warranties are a high priced gamble,             engines, poor fit and finish, cramped seating and lim-
                                   Rick Paul said. Sixty-five percent of more than 8,000          ited visibility.


2
    www.washautopress.org. March 2008      Volvo Shows Bush Green Trucks
                                             Volvo showed off seven carbon-
                                        dioxide-neutral trucks at the opening of
                                        the Washington International Renew-
                                        able Energy Conference March 6 at the
                                        Washington Convention Center. Presi-
                                        dent Bush toured the display of 6
                                        Volvo trucks and one Mack truck each
                                        capable of operating on different re-
                                        newable fuels before addressing the
                                        conference. Volvo Group CEO Lief
                                        Johansson explained that each of the
                                        trucks could be driven without any net
                                        contribution of carbon dioxide to the
                                        atmosphere. The display also included
                                        a Mack hybrid electric vehicle which
                                        will be delivered to the US Air Force
                                        under a cooperative research and de-          President George W. Bush is given a tour of Volvo and
                                        velopment agreement. Four Mack HEV            Mack carbon-dioxide-neutral trucks by Volvo Group
                                                                                      CEO Leif Johansson.
                                        trucks are currently being tested by the
                                        US Air Force.
                                             "We are grateful for President Bush's
                                        interest in our achievements and I shared with him Volvo's long-term goal of providing advanced vehicles
                                        having a benign environmental footprint," Johansson said.
                                             The Volvo Group is also participating in an environmental agreement developed by the American and
                                        Swedish governments aimed at reducing the use of fossil fuels through cooperative projects in energy and
                                        automotive development, including advanced hybrid and alternative driveline technology.
                                             For more information on the project contact: Marjorie Meyers, 212-418-7434 or 646-246-8606.




                                           Mazda Briefing on 2008 Models Highlights Mazda 5




                                          Mazda introduced its 2008 Mazda
                                          5 to WAPA members February 27
                                          at a luncheon at the USA Today
                                          building. Vehicle Line Manager
                                          Jeff Horne discussed the 2008 full
                                          model line-up for Mazda and then
                                          gave a walk-around of the new
                                          Mazda 5



3
    www.washautopress.org. March 2008
                                         WAPA Grapevine...
                                             The WAPA 2008 Speakers Calendar is                 ment affairs questions should be directed to
                                        shaping up. We have commitments through                 Daniel Ehreiser at 202-216-4934.
                                        Spring and are working on some outstanding                   Nissan's new headquarters in Tennessee
                                        speakers for the Summer and Fall.                       will open in July and AP reports it will be a very
                                         April 16: Smart Car presentation.                     green building. Sited on a 50-acre campus with
                                         May 20 Challenge X at a different venue than          a restored wetland, Nissan engineers developed
                                           the National Press Club. Details will be an-         the headquarters with green in mind. A "light
                                           nounced.                                             harvesting system" automatically dims or turns
                                         June 18 Panel discussion on new materials in          off interior lights in the offices while sun shades
                                           plastics, rubber and aluminum which can re-          driven by a computer reduce glare and reflect
                                           duce weight and increase fuel economy. WAPA          heat. Nissan engineers say the headquarters will
                                           may also include an auto designer to discuss         consume about 35 percent less energy than
                                           both opportunities and challenges inherent in        traditional buildings
                                           the new materials.
                                         July 16 Speakers to be announced.
                                         August NO MEETING
                                         September: A green take on the racing scene                 April 16 WAPA Meeting
                                           speakers from NASCAR or Lemans, and, per-
                                           haps, Tesla.
                                         October is the annual WAPA rally route and
                                           venue to be announced.
                                                                                                        SMART CAR
                                             Detlev von Platen takes over Porsche in
                                        the U.S. market beginning next month. Von                       With oil climbing to $109 a barrel and the
                                        Platen as president and chief executive officer of         end not yet in sight,
                                        Porsche Cars North America moves into the                  the planets aligned for
                                        head office in Atlanta, replacing Peter Schwar-            the introduction of the
                                        zenbauer, who will join the management board               Smart Car in the U.S.
                                        for Audi AG in Germany. Von Platen moves to                Smart USA Distribu-
                                        Atlanta after nine years as head of Porsche                tor LLC, a subsidiary
                                                                                                   of Penske Automotive
                                        France.
                                                                                                   Group, Inc., will have
                                             Porsche North America accounts for almost             a dealership network
                                        40 percent of the automaker's worldwide sales.             of 74 Smart Centers
                                        Porsche Cars Canada, a new independent sub-                with 68 open now.
                                        sidiary, will open for business in April, with Chris-           The first Smart
                                        tian Marti serving as president and CEO.                   car debuted at the
                                             Marijke Smith, Public Affairs Manager                 Frankfurt Motor Show
                                        with Volkswagen of America, Inc. is leaving after          in 1997. The Smart
                                        eight years at VW. She will become Director of             moniker comes from a
                                                                                                   combination of the words Swatch, Mercedes
                                        Membership Recruitment at the Intelligent
                                                                                                   and art. The tiny ForTwo gets 46.3 mpg in the
                                        Transportation Society of America (ITSA) in                city and on the highway manages 68.9 mpg.
                                        Washington, DC. "I am very excited to start a                    All Fortwos come with Electronic Stability
                                        new chapter in my career," Marijke said and                Program, Hill Start Assist, Anti-lock brakes,
                                        added although she won't be in the auto industry           Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD),
                                        anymore she will be glad to hear from folks who            Acceleration Skid Control (ASC), Electronic
                                        may want info on ITSA or just want to stay in              Brake Assist, Dual-circuit brake system with
                                        contact. Her new contact numbers are: email:               servo assistance and disc brakes at front and
                                        msmith@itsa.org, office phone: 202-721-4203                drum brakes at rear.
                                        and mobile phone: 301-509-2314.                                 The Smart presentation will be held at the
                                                                                                   National Press Club at noon April 16. For reser-
                                        Steve Keyes will take over media relations for             vations visit our website:
                                        Volkswagen. His phone is 248-754-5054. Jeff                www.washautopress.org and click on Upcoming
                                        Kuhlman will field media questions for Audi.               Events.
                                        His phone is 248-754-6017. Industry Govern-


4
WWW.WASHAUTOPRESS.ORG March 2008


                                                     President's Message...
                                                             And we're off ! What a great way to start the WAPA calendar year, with a stellar
                                                         presentation by Consumer Reports last month.
                                                             This was the first time CR presented results of its annual vehicle issue at an
                                                         automotive press event. And there were plenty of surprises. In the 2008 Top Ten
                                                         rankings, Korean automaker Hyundai made major inroads in vehicle quality, while
                                                         other automakers jockeyed for position. To help consumers make better buying de-
                                                         cisions, CR added some new testing criteria: an owner-cost estimate, for example,
                                                         looks at a vehicle's five-year expense for depreciation, fuel, interest, insurance,
                                   Joe Phillips
                                                         maintenance/repair, and sales tax. CR then explained how cheaper cars can actually
                                   2008                  cost consumers more in the long run than more expensive vehicles. Perhaps only
                                   WAPA President
                                                         CR can take such detailed automotive data and make it lively.
                                                             Kudos to CR speakers Dave Champion and Rik Paul for their spirited presenta-
                                                         tions. With WAPA turnout twice the size of a regular luncheon, it's no wonder CR
                                                         wants to make this an annual event.
                                                             Next up is the April luncheon, hosted by Smart USA. Expect an engaging look
                                                         at this newest entry into the North American market.
                                                             And please remember to renew your WAPA memberships. It's that time of year
                                                         again, and membership renewal ensures that your listing makes it into the annual
                                                         WAPA directory.
                                                             See you April. 16.




                                                 WAPA 2008 Board
                                   President Joe Phillips
                                   1st Vice President Rick Trawick
                                   2nd Vice President Mark Solheim
                                   Treasurer Pete Langlois
                                   Secretary Annemarie Pender
                                   Media Focus Group Les Jackson
                                   Pres. Emeritus Kimatni Rawlins
                                   Newsletter Cathy Nikkel Orme
                                            catherineorme@mac.com
                                   Web Master Yenny Louie
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