Driver's News: Sept. 17, 2001

September 17, 2001

A multi-pronged terrorist attack at the beginning of the work day on Sept. 11 has left thousands of people dead in lower Manhattan and approximately 200 dead outside Washington, D.C., in what has become known as the “Day of Terror” – the single largest loss of life to terrorism on American soil. The attacks began shortly after 9 a.m., when a hijacked American Airlines plane slammed into the north tower of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan's financial district. A United Airlines plane crashed into the second tower some 18 minutes later. A third airplane, confirmed as another American plane, crashed into the Pentagon's fourth, fifth and sixth wings, destroying an area 150 feet wide and five stories tall and setting fire to the nerve center of the American military. A fourth airplane, belonging to United Airlines, was lost some 80 miles outside Pittsburgh, and is believed to have been kept from its target of Washington, D.C., by the actions of several heroic passengers.
Do your part for the rescue and aid efforts by contacting your local chapter of the Red Cross,


General Motors, Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler are each pulling their massive resources together to aid the victims and the rescue efforts from Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C. GM’s General Motors Foundation has donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross and is matching all employee contributions to the Red Cross on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Additionally, GM has fielded a fleet of trucks, vans and SUVs to aid workers in the recovery and clean-up efforts. The DaimlerChrysler Foundation has made a $10 million donation to help children who have lost parents in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. DCAG Chairman Juergen Schrempp said, "The attacks have deeply affected the lives and futures of many children who have lost a mother or father. While this can never replace the void in these children’s lives, it can help give them renewed hope." Ford is stepping up to the volunteer plate as well, with Red Cross donations and vehicles, including sending 10 Excursion SUVs out to assist the New York Fire Department.
Day of Terror: Big 3 Shut Down by Joseph Szczesny


After crash testing eight new midsize sport-utility vehicles, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) came away impressed. The IIHS rates vehicles as being "good," "acceptable," "marginal," or "poor." The testing regimen is especially important because it includes offset crash testing wherein the driver-side front end receives the bulk of the impact, a more real-world imitation of the most frequent form of collision. Results of the latest round of IIHS testing show that the 2001 Acura MDX, 2001 Mitsubishi Montero Sport, 2001 Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 and 2001 Toyota Highlander all received the highest rating: good. The 2002 Buick Rendezvous and 2002 Isuzu Axiom received "acceptable" ratings, while "marginal" scores went to the 2002 Chevrolet Trailblazer and 2001 Pontiac Aztek. The fact that none of the eight SUVs tested as "poor" marks a significant improvement in SUV safety engineering. The 2002 Ford Explorer was held back from testing while the company makes engineering changes that may affect its crash-test results.
Recall, Rollover and Safety Info by TCC Team (9/10/2001)
CR Likes the Explorer by Joseph Szczesny (8/13/2001)


Everybody knew that General Motors Corporation was pulling the plug on Oldsmobile, but until last Friday, nobody knew when. Now GM has made the official declaration that Olds ends with the 2004 model year. In a terse written announcement, the company said that "Oldsmobile production has remained unprofitable." This could inspire one to ask how a company that sold 289,172 vehicles in 2000 could fail, but there it is. The last Olds Intrigue and Aurora V-6 models will roll off the line next June as 2002s. A year later, the V-8 Aurora will take its final bow as a 2003 model. Only the Alero, Silhouette and Bravada will stick around for the 2004 model year. The end of Oldsmobile means that Mercedes-Benz will be the only surviving automaker in the world to have built cars in three separate centuries.

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Ford Motor Company is working on a system that could innovate seat-belt safety. The idea is a seat-belt shoulder strap that can inflate like an airbag in a crash. According to Steve Rouhana, an engineer at Ford’s Safety Research Center in Dearborn, Michigan, the belt would inflate and expand to spread the impact harshness of a collision over a wider area of the torso. "Today’s belts are two inches wide," Rouhana told the Tribune. "An inflatable belt would expand to six inches wide. That would distribute your body weight over more of the belt so that the belt would absorb more of the force of the impact."
Recall, Rollover and Safety Info by TCC Team (9/10/2001)
TCC Tip: Seatbelt Safety by TCC Team


Red-light cameras might not disappear from the nation’s intersections, but a recent ruling by a San Diego judge gives manufacturers of the systems — and the police departments that use them to ticket red-light runners — reason to pause. On Sept. 5, San Diego Superior Court Judge Ronald Styn threw out 292 tickets issued by red-light cameras made by Lockheed Martin and operated by the company on behalf of the San Diego police. Judge Styn, in a first of its kind ruling, said that the tickets were “untrustworthy and unreliable.” Central to the case, the judge observed, was the fact that the city gave Lockheed a $70 commission on each $271 ticket issued and collected. This violates a California state law that says private companies cannot be used to administer law enforcement programs — and cast into doubt Lockheed’s role as a "neutral evaluator of the evidence," Styn ruled. The ruling does not have to be applied directly in other jurisdictions, but it’s expected to have a wide impact on similar setups across the country.
Judge Bags Red-Light Cams by Marty Padgett (9/10/2001)


As first reported by TheCarConnection last month, Cadillac is studying a brand-within-a-brand of high-performance products, much like BMW’s M series. That concept has just been given the go from General Motors’ Automotive Strategy Board, confirms North American chief Ron Zarrella. The initial cost, insiders reveal, will be under $100 million. The first product to market will be a version of the new Cadillac CTS, likely bumped up to somewhere above 325 horsepower, hints brand manager Jay Spenchian. Look for it to hit showrooms in 18 to 24 months. "You have to start with something that really gets peoples’ attention," he says. Specific details are still under study, as is the name Caddy will use. The debate is whether to tie up with a well-known partner, such as Mercedes-Benz did with its AMG line-up, or keep things in house, as BMW did with cars like the M5, and Audi does with its S series.
Preview: 2003 Cadillac CTS by TCC Team (8/20/2001)


North America’s tepid response to electric vehicles has left carmakers scratching their heads and wringing their hands, especially as government regulations keep calling for less pollution and better fuel economy. Ford Motor Company and DaimlerChrysler AG think that they might have an answer to the problem in the old adage "Small is Beautiful." Ford plans on bringing its Th!nk Neighbor electric city car to the U.S. later this year. With a top speed of 25 miles per hour and a 30-mile range, the little Neighbor—coming in two- and four-door versions—truly exists only as an errand and urban commute vehicle. DaimlerChrysler’s two-seat Smart, on the other hand, is a bit more ambitious, coming as it does out of the Mercedes-Benz philosophy of carmaking. Already a hit with the youth of Europe, tiny Smarts powered by gasoline and diesel engines dot the city streets in many German cities. EMotion Mobility of Atlanta, Georgia is buying 15,000 Smarts from DaimlerChrysler in Germany and will convert them to electric for use as short-trip rentals in high-traffic urban areas and transportation centers.
The NEV Next Door? by Frank Bohanan (4/2/2001)
Panoz, DC in Electric-Car Deal? by Marty Padgett (8/20/2001)


The North American subsidiary of the world’s second largest tiremaker has announced that it will do away with 2,000 jobs—approximately seven percent of its work force—as part of a $200 million cost-cutting program. Michelin North America, Inc. says that it expects the cuts to be felt at each of the company’s 23 North American plants. The company blamed recent downturns in the transportation industry for the changes, reflecting a worldwide slowdown that is forcing Michelin’s parent company in France to pare down its personnel in Europe as well.


The results of a new Harris poll released by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS) indicate that three out of four adults in the United States want to see laws enacted restricting the use of cellular telephones while driving. The survey, which also found that two thirds of the nation owns cell phones, found that the cell-phone danger beat out drunk driving and intersection safety as the Number One safety issue that respondents wanted addressed. The AHAS is a consortium of consumer, health, safety and insurance interests.
NY Says Shut Up and Drive by Joseph Szczesny (7/2/2001)


During the past 14 years, the under-35 age group has gone from a 37.3-percent share of the light vehicle market (1988) to 24.4 percent in 2001--a loss of about one-third. The reduction is even more significant for the under-25 age group who went from 11.2 percent of the market (1988) to 6.0 percent (2001), a reduction of 48 percent. This change in demographics could have major implications for new-vehicle marketing, advertising and promotional programs.
Source: J.D. Power and Associates Power Car and Truck Media Reports

Many vehicles work hard for a living, but fleet cars and trucks have exceptionally tough careers. When many of these vehicles are retired from fleet service they are sold to the public. According to Experian Automotive's National Vehicle Database, approximately one in 91 vehicles on the road are fleet vehicles. For more information on how to gather crucial vehicle information, please go to

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