Friday, 17 September 2010 22:13

Toyota to Offer Six New Hybrid Models in 2012

Toyota plans to offer six new gas-electric hybrid vehicles worldwide by the end of 2012, plus a plug-in Prius in the United States according to reports made by the New York Times.

In addition, the automaker and Tesla Motors will introduce an all-electric version of the RAV4 S.U.V. at the Los Angeles auto show in November 2010. It, too, will be available sometime in 2012, said John Hanson, Toyota national manager of environmental, safety and quality communications.

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An Ohio representative introduced an anti-steering bill to the state’s legislature in May, and, though it hasn’t moved forward since, Rep. Raymond Prior (D – Ohio) says that as the state’s summer break wraps up, he still has hope it could move forward when the session resumes in early November.

“Shortly after it was introduced the House and Senate broke for the summer break,” Pryor said. “So, we expect to be back in session possibly before the elections or right after the election on November 2. So we’re currently building support for the bill and we hope to have our first committee meeting and hearing on the bill probably the second week of November.”

If the bill, H.B. 527, becomes law, it will “prohibit auto insurers from requiring, recommending, or suggesting that a claimant on a policy have the claimant's vehicle repaired at a particular repair shop or by a particular person unless the claimant requests a recommendation or suggestion.”

Pryor says he decided to sponsor the bill after he was contacted by a local body shop owner.

“I sponsored the bill because one of my local body shop owners had contacted me with concerns that business was being driven away from [his business] to ‘preferred body shops’ by insurance companies,” says Pryor. “The insurance companies were allegedly telling prospective customers that he had talked with that they needed to take their cars [to preferred body shops] for quicker service … and folks were doing that.”

After some research, Pryor says he found the body shop owner who contacted him wasn’t alone.

“Come to find out there were several body shops that felt the same way,” he says.

And, though the bill hasn’t yet had a formal hearing, Pryor has seen some opposition to H.B. 527 already.

“[Insurers] haven’t been well pleased by any means and they’re offering to tell me all about their preferred shops … ,” he says.

The Independent Glass Association (IGA) issued a member bulletin today encouraging its Ohio members to get involved in support of the bill.

The Allstate Insurance Company September 2 released its sixth annual "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report(TM)." The report ranks America's 200 largest cities in terms of car collision frequency to identify which cities have the safest drivers, according to Allstate claim data.

This year's top honor of "America's Safest Driving City" is Fort Collins, Colorado. According to the report, the average driver in Fort Collins will experience an auto collision every 14.5 years, which is about 31 percent less likely than the national average.
"For the sixth year, Allstate is releasing the Allstate America's Best Driver's Report to facilitate an ongoing dialogue on safe driving," said Mike Roche, senior vice president, Allstate's Claim Organization. "We also want to recognize the city of Fort Collins for being the safest driving city in America, and we salute all of America's safe drivers, who help make our communities better places to live, work and raise families."

Fort Collins city officials credit their residents with earning the safe driving recognition.

"Once again, the people of Fort Collins have made me proud to live in this community," said Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson. "Becoming America's Safest Driving City takes quality roads and infrastructure. But more than anything else, it's the result of individuals taking responsibility for keeping our streets safe."

Auto crashes in general have declined over the last few years, but crash fatalities still average around an alarming 35,000 every year despite technological advances, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Human error is the biggest cause of accidents. It is vital for us to educate drivers across the country on the importance of being tolerant and attentive behind the wheel," said Roche.

The Report
For the past six years, Allstate actuaries have conducted an in-depth analysis of company claim data to determine the likelihood drivers in America's 200 largest cities will experience a vehicle collision compared to the national average. Internal property damage reported claims were analyzed over a two-year period (from January 2007 to December 2008) to ensure the findings would not be impacted by external influences such as weather or road construction.

A weighted average of the two-year numbers determined the annual percentages. The report defines an auto crash as any collision resulting in a property damage claim. Allstate's auto policies represent about 11 percent of all U.S. auto policies, making this report a realistic snapshot of what's happening on America's roadways.

The Top Ten
For the first time in the report's six-year history, Fort Collins was revealed as the safest driving city.

Collision Likelihood      Average Years
Compared to National         Between
City & Overall Ranking            Average              Collisions
1.   Fort Collins, Colo.     -31.2% less likely                  14.5
2.   Chattanooga, Tenn.      -22.7% less likely                  12.9
3.   Boise, Idaho            -22.3% less likely                  12.9
4.   Colorado Springs, CO    -20.0% less likely                  12.5
5.   Knoxville, Tenn.        -19.5% less likely                  12.4
6.   Eugene, Ore.            -18.3% less likely                  12.2
7.   Reno, Nev.              -18.2% less likely                  12.2
8.   Huntsville, Ala.        -18.1% less likely                  12.2
9.   Lincoln, Neb.           -17.9% less likely                  12.2
10. Cedar Rapids, Iowa       -16.5% less likely                  12.0

Additional "Road" Scholars
Drivers in U.S. cities with populations of one million-plus are more likely than the national average to experience a collision. Motorists in Phoenix topped the list in this category making them the safest big city commuters.

Cities with More Than One Million Residents:

Collision Likelihood       Average Years
Compared to National          Between
City & Overall Ranking            Average               Collisions
74.    Phoenix, Ariz.        1.9% more likely                     9.8
103.  San Diego, Ca.         8.3% more likely                     9.2
159.  New York, N.Y.       28.6% more likely                     7.8
161.  Houston, Texas        29.5% more likely                     7.7
163   San Antonio,TX        30.2% more likely                     7.7
167.  Chicago, Ill.              32.3% more likely                     7.6
173.  Dallas, Texas           35.2% more likely                     7.4
183.  Los Angeles, CA      44.7% more likely                     6.9
187.  Philadelphia, PA       53.5% more likely                     6.5

To view the complete "Allstate America's Best Drivers Report," or to see previous year's results, log onto www.allstatenewsroom.com.

About Allstate
The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) is the nation's largest publicly held personal lines insurer. Widely known through the "You're In Good Hands With Allstate®" slogan, Allstate is reinventing protection and retirement to help more than 17 million households insure what they have today and better prepare for tomorrow. Consumers access Allstate insurance products (auto, home, life and retirement) and services through Allstate agencies, independent agencies, and Allstate exclusive financial representatives in the U.S. and Canada, as well as via www.allstate.com and 1-800 Allstate®.

Note: The Allstate data excludes cities in the state of Massachusetts. Other cities not represented by any zip codes found in Allstate data: West Valley, Utah, Coral Springs, Fla., Lakewood, Colo., and Pembroke Pines, Fla. The Allstate Best Drivers Report is produced solely to boost the country's discussion about safe driving and to increase awareness of the importance of being tolerant and attentive behind the wheel. The report is not used to determine auto insurance rates. A state specific adjustment was utilized for the Michigan cities to account for the unique coverage offered in that state.

Traffic deaths have hit their lowest level since 1950, the year fatalities behind the wheel began to be tracked, according to the latest government statistics and reports made by CNN Money.

Car crashes killed 33,808 in 2009, a nearly 10% drop from the year before, according to data from the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

There were 33,186 deaths on U.S. roads in 1950.

The decline in fatalities occurred despite a slight increase in the number of miles actually driven. The fatality rate, meaning the number of deaths per vehicle mile driven in the country, was 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles driven, the lowest it has ever been, NHTSA said.

"At the Department of Transportation, we are laser-focused on our top priority: safety," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. "Today's announcement shows that America's roads are the safest they've ever been. But they must be safer. And we will not rest until they are."

Besides safer vehicles and an increase in people buckling their seatbelts -- 85% of drivers now use their seatbelts, LaHood said during a press conference -- a weak economy may also have been a factor in the reduction.

During an economic decline, people make fewer trips for entertainment and enjoyment and those trips tend more often to be deadly, LaHood said. Given that, traffic deaths will probably increase as the economy improves, he said, but they are not likely to return to past levels.

Alcohol-related traffic deaths, one of the leading types of fatal traffic accidents, declined by 7.4% between 2008 and 2009, NHTSA said. Last year 10,839 people were killed in Alcohol related crashes, the agency said, about a third of all traffic deaths.

Drunk driving will continue to be a major focus of NHTSA's auto safety efforts, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, said.

"We will not rest until this deadly crime stops," he said in a press conference.

Deaths declined in all vehicle categories last year, LaHood said, including motorcycles. 850 fewer people died riding motorcycles in 2009 compared to the year before. This follows 11 years of increases in motorcycle deaths which Strickland attributed to states repealing mandatory motorcycle helmet laws. Strickland attributed part of the decline to better education on motorcycle safety as well as people taking fewer discretionary motorcycle trips because of the weak economy.

All traffic accidents, fatal or not, declined by 5.3% between 2008 and 2009, the agency said.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 3 and 34, NHTSA said.

Wednesday, 01 September 2010 15:53

August Auto Sales Could be Worst in 30 years

GM was the first of the major auto makers to report how tough it was to move new vehicles in August, recording a steep 24.9% drop in August vehicle sales. GM's decline was mostly in line with analysts' targets.

As GM moves toward a massive public offering, it posted sales of 185,176 cars and trucks, down from 246,479 a year ago. Excluding the brands that are no longer part of GM's future, sales fell 10.6% to 184,921 vehicles.

"Last year's Cash for Clunkers (CARS) program spiked industry sales in 2009, so results this August were not surprisingly a bit mixed," said Don Johnson, head of U.S. sales.

The rate is 18% lower than the 14.2 million recorded during last year's rebate program, which boosted purchases and made August one of the best sales months in 2009. In August 2009, the C4C promotion -- aimed at getting older, less fuel-efficient cars off the road in exchange for newer, more environmentally friendly models -- sparked big sales numbers, which are now skewing the year on year results.

Toyota Motor Corp. is expected to drop almost 30%. Last week, the company added 1.1 million Corolla and Matrix sedans to its recall woes, due to engine problems that could lead to unexpected stalls. When the industry's final numbers are tallied, the sales figure could prove to be the worst in almost three decades.

A formal complaint has been made to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA), responding strongly to recent position statements made by Honda regarding aftermarket parts. AAIA claims that Honda’s statements – failure to use Honda replacement parts will cause consumers to lose warranty coverage on their vehicle – are a violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

In its complaint to FTC, AAIA claims that Honda’s statements are a direct attempt to market replacement parts for Honda under the guise of an unsubstantiated warning to consumers regarding the use of non-original equipment parts.

“We request that FTC take immediate action to require that Honda withdraw the statement and issue a correction that use of non-Honda parts will not cause a owner to violate their warranty,” said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO.

In a statement issued by American Honda for both its Honda and Acura vehicle lines on Aug. 20, they said, “American Honda will not be responsible for any subsequent repair costs associated with vehicle or part failures caused by the use of parts other than Honda Genuine parts purchased from an authorized U.S. Honda dealer.”

“We contend that Honda’s statements are in violation of prohibitions in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty-FTC Improvement Act (Public Law 93-637) from conditioning a consumer warranty on the use of non-original equipment parts, and are misleading to consumers regarding their rights and choices under the law,” Schmatz said. “To our knowledge, Honda has provided no specific evidence to support their claim that there are problems with use of non-Honda aftermarket parts for their vehicles or that use of such parts creates warranty-related issues for their customers.”