Consumer Car News: 7/29/02

July 29, 2002

2002 Honda FCX

2002 Honda FCX

The goal of hydrogen-powered zero-emissions fuel cell vehicles came a step closer to reality Wednesday when the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made the Honda FCX the first car to receive full certification to be used as a commercial vehicle on American roads. Honda spokesman Art Garner said the first FCX will hit the road in America later this year as a lease vehicle. Garner said the customer and terms of the lease were still being worked out and would not be released until the deal is finalized. Honda’s goal is to lease 30 fuel cell vehicles over the next two to three years in California and Tokyo. The vehicles will not be for sale to the general public for at least another decade, however. Garner admits Honda will be heavily subsidizing the cost of the vehicle under the lease, calling it “an investment in the future.” The FCX is built on the chassis of Honda’s EV Plus electrical vehicle. It has a driving range of about 220 miles. “We’ve done lots of testing ourselves, but now we want to find out what happens in real world use. We want to get the response from our customers – get their feedback,” Garner said. “It’s a good first step, and we’re proud of it.”—Bill Rapai
Calif. Makes CO2 Limits Law (7/22/2002)


The auto industry is vowing to fight any and all effort to implement a new California law aimed at cutting down the emission of greenhouse gases. California Governor Gray Davis on Monday signed a potentially far-reaching piece of legislation that is supposed to help combat global warming by curbing the emissions of greenhouse gases. Davis said the new legislation puts the state out in front in the effort to reduce the threat of global warming and protect the state's car-based culture. The new law will not impose new vehicle or gasoline taxes and will not limit the miles driven or require smaller, lighter or slower vehicles, Davis said. "Nor will it limit SUV, minivan, or any other type of vehicle ownership," Davis said. Read more on the legislation inside TCC today:
Calif. Makes CO2 Limits Law (7/22/2002)


2003 Saab 9-3

2003 Saab 9-3

When the new 9-3 hits the street this coming autumn, Saab will be taking an aggressive approach to pricing in a bid to boost volume. The entry-level 9-3 Linear model will come in at $25,900, reveals Saab USA President Dan Chasins. That’s a 7-percent cut from the current starting price of $27,995. And Saab officials note that this model won’t be the proverbial “stripper,” but will offer a range of upscale features, including leather seats. The mid-line 9-3 Arc will come in at $29,995, while the sporty Vector will debut at $32,495. Both of those models will follow in late January 2003. Saab’s price cuts are designed to give the new model momentum at a time when the automaker is hoping to double its sales in the entry-luxury segment.
Saab Making Big Plans (7/22/2002)
2003 Saab 9-3 (7/22/2002)


The American Automobile Association (AAA) says that when cars and trucks crash, it’s due to poor decisions by the car driver. In 80 percent of such crashes, the car was being driven dangerously; 98 percent are caused by the car drivers. The AAA says more than 5000 people die each year in car-truck crashes, mostly because of the following reasons:
failure to keep in the lane or running off the road;
failure to yield the right of way;
driving too fast for conditions or above the speed limit;
failure to obey signs and signals;
and driver inattention.


The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that over 450,000 used cars are sold each year with the mileage on the odometer rolled back. The NHTSA knows this because it was ordered by Congress to conduct a study to determine if odometer fraud was a problem. According to the NHTSA, it examined the title transfers of 10,000 vehicles and its own database of known odometer fraud. Researchers calculated that 3.4 percent of vehicles less than 11 years old have had their odometers rolled back. NHTSA says the major culprits are buyers of fleet vehicles like rental and leased cars that rack up a lot of miles in a short period of time. Once it required some special tools and a watchmaker’s skill, but with today’s electronic gauges, a laptop and a little know-how available on the Internet is enough to do the job. NHTSA calculates that on average, used car buyers pay $2,336 more than they should for a vehicle when the odometer has been rolled back.—Bob Storck


The radar-detector industry is on the fritz after a federal ruling that changes the bandwidth available to new detectors. For a few years, Reuters reports, radar detector makers have been shifting their units to operate on bandwidth shared by satellite systems that regulate automatic gas pumps and other devices; operating in those frequencies allowed the detectors to hide from police detection equipment. Now the government has given detector makers 90 days to stop making units that work on those satellite bands. While some makers have already shifted back to their former bandwidth, Reuters reports, some have not, and retailers could be stuck with units on their shelves when the deadline comes.


A Mercedes van will be sold in the United States under the Dodge name, giving its 2900 Dodge dealers a vehicle to plug the hole that will be created when Chrysler stops building Dodge Ram vans next year. The boxy, diesel-engined commercial Sprinter van went on sale last year at Freightliner commercial truck dealerships, and is built using unibody techniques that make it lower to the ground for better access and handling. In Europe, this type of van dominates, with Ford of Europe, VW, Renault and Fiat all making variants. DaimlerChrysler has sold about 2,000 Sprinters so far this year, mostly to FedEx, and touts its large cargo space and its five-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine that gets about 22 miles per gallon. The Sprinter is built in Germany and shipped disassembled to South Carolina for assembly, while passenger versions are imported fully assembled. The Sprinter starts at $26,300,  slightly more expensive than its direct competitors from Ford and GM.—Bob Storck


Land Rover's G4 Challenge new international adventure event will feature competitors from 16 countries who will participate in an exhilarating off-road driving and multi-sport challenge that will take place in a backdrop of some of the world's most stunning scenery. The name is derived from its four consecutive global stages, each in a different time zone. The first G4 event starts in New York City on March 30, 2003, and covers around 4000 miles over five weeks of intense competition, with stages on the East and West Coasts of North America, in addition to Australia and South Africa. The competitors will travel through remote areas as well as urban centers such as Quebec, Cape Town, Sydney and Las Vegas. "The Land Rover G4 Challenge will be the adventure of a lifetime," said Bob Dover, Managing Director of Land Rover. All four Land Rover vehicles - Range Rover, Discovery, Freelander and Defender - painted in specially commissioned 'Tangiers Orange,' will feature on the Challenge and are capable of carrying the multitude of equipment - kayaks, mountain bikes and climbing kit - which the competitors will need to complete the Challenge. From July 23rd, would-be competitors can visit for more information. -- Sue Mead

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