IS THE MOST STOLEN CAR
The 20 largest insurance companies say that claims are down since 1980 — but that payouts are higher, Reuters reports. The companies represented by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) also says the 1999-2001 Acura Integra has the highest theft rate and claim costs, due in part to hot-rod thieves that steal the vehicles for their engines and transplant them into Honda Civics. The Integra from those years is eight times more likely than normal to be stolen. The HLDI says in 1980, 15.2 of every 1000 vehicles were reported stolen; the number dropped to 2.6 vehicles per 1000 last year, but the average claim has risen nearly fivefold to about $6300.
WRECKS COST U.S. $230 BILLION
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that car crashes cost the nation $230 billion each year, or $820 per person. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta said that, based on figures from the year 2000, that alcohol-related crashes are responsible for nearly $51 billion, while the agency attributes $40 billion of the losses to speeding.
NHTSA: Two-Wheel Mayhem? by Eric Peters (4/29/2002)
COLORADO GOES PUBLIC, SORT OF 2004 Chevrolet Colorado
Spy Shots: 2003 Chevy Colorado by Brenda Priddy (4/29/2002)
2004 Chevrolet Colorado
PITS NEW 9-3 AGAINST BMW 2003 Saab 9-3
2003 Saab 9-3
SUV OFF THE PLANNER
A Saab spokesman says the brand’s plans for a seven-passenger sport-ute have been scuttled. Kevin Smith told the wire service that the plans to build a Saab version of the upcoming Cadillac SRX proved difficult and more expensive than planned. Smith added that Saab plans to boost sales volume in the U.S. to 70,000 vehicles per year by 2004, by introducing a new range of vehicles, including a new 9-3 entry-level vehicle later this year and a crossover wagon variant in 2003. The new 9-3 will be the first GM product built on the company’s Delta platform, which will also spawn replacements for the Pontiac Grand Am and other compact to mid-size front-drive vehicles.
2002 Saab 9-3 Viggen Conv. by Paul Wiley Cockerham (1/28/2002)
9-3 HAS LOWEST INJURY CLAIMS
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) report on insurance claims and costs issued last week showed that Saab’s lineup scored some of the lowest numbers of injury insurance claims, the company crowed on Thursday. The study, based on data from 1998-2000, showed that Saab’s 9-3 and 9-5 lineups had relatively fewer accidents causing injuries than other vehicle makes. The complete HLDI report can be found at http://www.carsafety.org.
RECALL #5 FOR GM UTES
General Motors will recall 60,000 mid-size sport-utes to correct a problem with the vehicles’ fuel filters, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Tuesday. The Chevy TrailBlazer/Olds Bravada/GMC Envoy triplets have been recalled four times prior. The current recall affects vehicles built between September and November 2001; NHTSA says the fuel filter could loosen and cause a leak. Prior recalls include a major one at launch to correct a suspension component problem.
USA GOING BANKRUPT
Automotive News reports that Daewoo Motors USA is hearing the death knell. The Korean brand’s U.S. operations, says the industry weekly, is near a bankruptcy filing that could come as soon as this week. Dealers are said to be unable to receive parts or warranty checks from South Korea, and as a result are preparing a class-action lawsuit naming Daewoo, GM and the Korean Development Bank and charging they broke franchise laws. GM recently took a 42-percent stake in select Daewoo assets — which did not include the company’s U.S. sales arm.
GM-Daewoo Deal Done by Joseph Szczesny (5/6/2002)
HOLDEN’S CROSS 8 CROSS OVER? 2002 Holden Cross8
Will Holden’s Cross8 Cross Over? by David Morley (5/13/2002)
2002 Holden Cross8
JERSEY COPS SUING FORD
The police department of New Brunswick, N.J. is suing Ford, alleging that the Crown Victoria is prone to leaking fuel and catching fire in high-speed rear-end collisions. The suit follows a recent concern of the state of Arizona police, which complained that the vehicles had suffered fatal fires in the course of duty because their fuel tanks were punctured. Ford says the half-million Crown Vics it has built for law enforcement, including the current generation, are safe; the company has requested departments make minor fixes to reduce the chance of suspension components piercing the fuel tank in a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating the issue in select Crown Vics, Grand Marquises, and Town Cars.
SPORTING CREDIT CARD
Saturn’s latest introduction isn’t a new sedan or sport-ute — though it too is plastic. GM’s newest car brand will offer its own credit card. The Saturn Card becomes available in June and will allow customers to purchase parts, accessories and service on time. The card is an extension of the partnership that brought the GM Card to market in 1992.
REPORTS RECALLS GIFT
The reliability and safety mavens at Consumer Reports are recalling 15,000 gifts given to subscribers for fire-safety and tire-pressure hazards. The gift — a glovebox organizer — contains a flashlight that could overheat and melt, and a tire pressure gauge that doesn’t read properly, according to Reuters.'' Consumers Union learned a valuable lesson - we need to test any product that we offer as a premium in our own labs with the same rigor with which we rate the products you see in Consumer Reports,'' Consumers Union President Jim Guest says in a letter to readers due in the July issue.
THIS WEEK’S AUTO FACT
Sales of new convertibles in the United States have risen 63 percent since 1996, underscoring America's rekindled passion for the open-air driving experience. In 1996, convertibles accounted for only 1.3 percent of all registered vehicles according to R. L. Polk & Co. That number now stands at 1.9 percent, a difference of more than 103,000 registrations. The most popular convertibles for 2001 are as follows:
Model 2001 Retail Registrations % of all Convertibles
Ford Mustang 36,335 14%
Chrysler Sebring 32,767 12%
Mazda Miata 16,284 6%
Mitsubishi Eclipse 13,470 5%
Volkswagen Cabrio 13,224 5%
BMW Z3 12,836 5%
Chevrolet Corvette 12,648 5%
Lexus S430 12,260 5%
Porsche Boxster 11,374 4%
Mercedes SLK 10,741 4%
Source: R. L. Polk & Co.