Daily Edition: Jun. 8, 2004

June 8, 2004

New rollover ratings: SUVs still at issue

The federal government released new results regarding vehicle rollover risk for some models Monday, including much-anticipated results for the Ford Explorer. The Explorer was given an overall rating of "three" on the five-star system, meaning the vehicle showed a rollover risk that was about the same as other vehicles in its class. The new ratings are based on track-test observations in rapid left-right swerving at 35 and 50 mph. In the new tests, it was noted that the Explorer, along with several other SUV models tested, tipped up on two wheels. Of the 30-plus cars the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed rollover ratings for, the Mazda RX-8 was the first and only vehicle to earn a five-star rating, meaning the risk of rollover in a single-car crash is less than ten percent.
2004 Mazda RX-8

2004 Mazda RX-8

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Most of the SUVs tested in this round - including variants of the Mercury Mountaineer, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon - scored three stars, meaning that the percentage risk is between 20 and 30 percent. Most of the passenger cars in the test received a better four-star rating, which corresponds to a 10- to 20-percent risk, mostly due to their lower center of mass. Meanwhile, Ford Motor Co. is still dealing with the aftermath of its Firestone-Explorer tire-defect rollover scandal in the courts. Just last week, a San Diego court made a $369 million judgment against Ford Motor Co. for a motorist who had been paralyzed in a rollover accident.

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Lear Daily Edition

Ford to Focus on China with new concept

Ford Focus China concept

Ford Focus China concept

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Ford Motor Co., a latecomer to the booming Chinese market, has introduced its first-ever concept designed specifically for the Asian nation. The Focus concept will officially go on display later this week when the Beijing Motor Show opens its doors to the public. The prototype is a slight bit larger than the current Focus models sold in the U.S. and other markets, especially in terms of interior and trunk space. There's a more rounded look than today's angular model, as well. "This Concept presents the four-door as the style setter for the next generation of car buyers in China," explained Paul Gibson, Ford's design manager for the Asia/Pacific region.
Ford Focus China concept

Ford Focus China concept

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Specific production plans are unclear, but Ford is now trying to build a position in China, where it lags behind such competitors as Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler, and General Motors - which just announced a $3 billion expansion program. Ford only began production in China in January of 2003, working with its partner, Changan Automotive Group. It now produces Chinese versions of both the Fiesta and Mondeo and is expected to continue building on the lineup. At this year's auto show, Ford will also display import models from a number of its global brands, such as Volvo and Aston Martin. -TCC Team

Preview: Beijing Motor Show by TCC Team (6/7/04)
Though sales slow a bit, China's car industry remainshot.

Ernst & Young Daily Edition STD

Cracking down on China's logo look-alikes

Honda Motor Co. is now accusing Chinese motorcycle maker Chongqing Lifan Industry Group Co. of stealing its logo, launching a claim in a China court for more than $2 million in damages. Chongqing Lifan uses an "SOR" logo on its motorcycles that Honda says is too close to its "SCR" logo, and that it is even applied to the same place on the bike. The lawsuit is only the latest in a string of recent claims against Chinese automakers. Toyota is still going after automaker Geely for trademark piracy. Honda is also suing Chongqing Lifan for use of the name "Hongda" on its vehicles, and has also waged a lawsuit against Hebei Shuanghuan Auto Co. for making a much cheaper CR-V look-alike called the S-RV.

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