Consumer Car News: 6/10/02

June 10, 2002

Sales of new vehicles dropped nearly 6 percent, raising concerns that sales could finally be slowing after two years of extremely strong numbers. May sales ran at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of about 15.6 million, which marks the first time since January that sales had dropped below the rate of 16 million units annually. The final results for May were below the expectations of many analysts, but automakers said they didn't believe the drop was harbinger of more trouble in the months ahead. Read more about the good, the bad, and the record setters including Toyota and Hyundai today inside TCC:
May Sales Slower All Around (6/3/2002)



1 Ford F-Series pickup                  344,704

2 Chevy Silverado-C/K pickup         274,170

3 Toyota Camry                           189,118

4 Dodge Ram pickup                     161,286

5 Ford Explorer                            157,566

6 Honda Accord                           148,486

7 Ford Taurus                              133,892

8 Honda Civic                              126,380

9 Dodge Caravan                         118,048

10 Chevrolet Cavalier                    114,898

11 Toyota Corolla                         96,501

12 Ford Focus                             94,863

13 Ford Ranger pickup                   93,809

14 Chevy TrailBlazer                     90,162

15 Jeep Grand Cherokee                87,149

16 Nissan Altima                          84,686

17 Chevrolet Tahoe                      81,650

18 GMC Sierra pickup                    79,593

19 Chevrolet Impala                    78,903

20 Pontiac Grand Am                    67,141

Source: Reuters


A report compiled by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that human beings are responsible for the effects of global warming in the 20th century. In opposition to statements made by the Bush Administration, the report says "greenhouse gases are accumulating in the Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing global mean surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise," Reuters reports. The report, already being decried on talk radio as flawed, says that U.S.-borne greenhouse gases will increase 43 percent by the year 2020. Despite the controversial findings, the Administration has passed on signing the Kyoto Treaty, which aims to cut global emissions of greenhouse gases.
TCC Tip: Exhausting Choices by Bengt Halvorson (5/27/2002)


Claimants seeking class-action status for their Ford Explorer lawsuits have lost another round. A federal appeals court will not second-guess a prior decision to deny a class action to thousands of Explorer owners who want compensation for the reduced resale value of their vehicles, in the aftermath of the 2000 Firestone tire recall. The judges in  both the appellate and lower courts found that a single class-action suit would be unmanageable; attorneys for the claimants tell Reuters they may appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. These lawsuits are separate from the personal-injury and wrongful-death suits filed separately against both Ford and Firestone.


Following an increase in rebates on its truck models, GM says it will also raise incentives on its mid-size passenger cars by $500. With the bump, GM will now give $2500 cash back on the Pontiac Grand Am, Chevrolet Malibu,  Impala,  Monte Carlo, and Buick Regal. GM’s May sales fell 12 percent, twice as much as the industry average; the Regal alone fell off 64 percent from May 2001. The rebates are in effect through July 1.
May Sales Slower All Around by Joseph Szczesny (6/3/2002)


The Chrysler Group says it will offer a seven-year/100,000-mile warranty on vehicles sold through July 8, extending an offer set to expire. The company will also stick with $2500 rebates or zero-percent financing for three years on minivans, Grand Cherokees and Durangos, a spokesman told Reuters on Friday. The offers counter cash rebates and cut-rate financing offered by Ford and GM up to the July 4 weekend.
DC May Extend Extended Warranty by Joseph Szczesny (5/27/2002)

DaimlerChrysler says the first two Maybach models will be named the 57 and 62, Automotive News reports. The 57, measuring 5.7 meters long, will be the junior model while the 62, at 6.2 meters long, will be the long-wheelbase version. Prices for the 57 will start just below $300,000; sales are set for the end of the year in Europe, the newsweekly says.
Carmakers in a Horsepower War by TCC Team (5/13/2002)


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is looking for ways to cut down on fatalities and injuries in accidents between cars and SUVs. Dr. Jeffrey Runge, head of NHTSA, said yesterday that his agency will study the problems caused when taller, heavier SUVs collide with smaller, lighter passenger cars and will make recommendations to carmakers. In each year since 1995, car-SUV crashes have killed more car passengers than truck passengers, Runge said.
NHTSA: We’re Staying Alive by Bengt Halvorson (4/29/2002)


NHTSA is facing opposition to its push for tougher tire testing. Reuters reports that tire and automakers are resisting the changes, saying it could cost $1.5 billion to make changes to vehicles and tires to meet tougher standards. NHTSA says a range of changes, such as more miles of durability testing, could save 27 lives each year and prevent 667 injuries thought to be caused by blowouts and other tire problems. The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which represents most of the major tiremakers, says NHTSA’s estimate that one-third of tires would need design changes is too low. The news service says GM estimates that 22 percent of its cars and 6 percent of its trucks would not pass tests with current tires.


Already recalled eight times, the Ford Focus is now being investigated in two separate cases by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA says that 72 people have reported engine stalling; seven reported crashes as a result of the potential defect, which could affect about 575,000 2000-2001 vehicles. In the other case, 2000-2002 Focuses are being studied for control-arm fracture, which seven owners have reported and implicated in six crashes.
2002 Ford Focus ZTW Wagon by Paul Wiley Cockerham (5/27/2002)

The NHTSA also is pushing ahead a study of about 500,000 mid-size GM sedans and minivans for a possible steering defect. Reuters says more than 1200 people have reported locked steering while driving; 28 crashes have also been reported. The models involved include the 1997 Chevrolet Venture and Malibu; Olds Silhouette and Cutlass; Pontiac Grand Prix and Tran Sport; and the 1998 Olds Intrigue. This stage of investigation precedes a formal recall, although not all similar studies are elevated to a full recall.


While GM put out positive vibes in Wilmington, it spread a little love across the rebate scene as well, boosting rebates on some of its truck models by $750. GM told Reuters it would match key rebates offered by rival Ford in the face of tricky May sales numbers; sales of GM’s trucks, on a roll for the past year, plunged by 23 percent while Ford’s fell just more than one percent and Chrysler’s rose. The news service says GM’s revised rebates give buyers of mid-size SUVs $1750 cash back; four-door full-size trucks, $1500; and the rest of its truck lineup, $2500. Ford’s deals also offer low-interest financing, while Chrysler’s includes its recently extended extended-warranty offering.
Big Three In Incentive “War” by TCC Team (4/1/2002)


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