Consumer Car News: 8/12/02

August 12, 2002

TRAFFIC DEATHS ROSE IN 2001
Traffic deaths rose slightly last year, to the highest levels in 11 years, according to the Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In nearly 3 trillion miles traveled, some 42,116 Americans died as a result of car crashes, slightly more than 2000’s 41,945 deaths. About 60 percent of those killed were not wearing seat belts. The numbers were the highest since 1990; however, traffic injuries were down by nearly 5 percent.

 

FORD, BALLARD SHOW OFF FUEL-CELL GENERATOR
Ford and Ballard Power Systems on Wednesday showed a combustion-powered hydrogen generator that could make fuel cells reality at the end of the decade. The generator, powered by a Ford 6.8-liter V-10 engine, will go into production later this year. Power utilities and other like companies will be able to use the powerplant to generate electricity during peak periods. Ford is a part owner in Ballard, along with DaimlerChrysler.
Detroit Showing Green Bruises by Joseph Szczesny (8/5/2002)

 

VW ENDS CABRIO IN U.S.
Volkswagen AG said it will stop selling its Cabrio model in the U.S., replacing it with the 2003 New Beetle convertible to be introduced at the North American International Auto Show in January. The current Cabrio is built off the Golf III, not the Golf IV that is sold today, which accounts for why the Cabrio has been VW's worst-quality vehicle. The Cabrio, which retails for between $19,600 and $22,300, was introduced in 1979 as the Volkswagen Rabbit Convertible. The company said more than 223,000 Cabrios have been sold in the U.S. The Cabrio will still be available in Europe, the spokesman said. –Jim Burt
Spy Shots: ’03 VW Beetle Conv. by Brenda Priddy (7/15/2002)

 

2003 Porsche Cayenne

2003 Porsche Cayenne

CAYENNE: $56,665 BASE, $89,665 TURBO
Porsche also has announced the pricing for its upcoming sport-ute, the controversial Cayenne. The Cayenne S with a 340-hp, 4.5-liter V-8 engine will cost $56,665 including destination and will include an alarm system, automatic air conditioning and a CD stereo with ten speakers. Porsche promises a zero to 60 mph time of 7.2 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph. For the Cayenne Turbo, Porsche installs twin intercooled turbochargers to boost output to 450 hp. The $89,665 Turbo model is promised to have a zero to 60 mph time of 5.6 seconds and top speed of 165 mph.
VW Unveils Touareg, Finally by Jim Burt (4/29/2002)

 

2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90

2003 Volvo XC90

VOLVO XC90: $35,725 BASE
Volvo says the base all-wheel-drive version of its new XC90 sport-ute will run $35,725, including the stand-alone option of all-wheel drive ($1750) and $625 in destination fees. A front-drive XC90 won’t be available until spring of 2003, but will cost $33,975 including destination. Both of those models sport a 2.5-liter in-line five with a single turbocharger and 208 hp. The all-wheel-drive XC90 T6, with a 268-hp, twin-turbo in-line six, will be $40,600. While no plans exist right now to import the European five-cylinder diesel model, Volvo president Vic Doolan says the common-rail diesel is a possibility for the model during its seven-year run. The XC90 goes on sale in the U.S. in November with what Volvo describes as the first roll-stability control system, which uses the brakes to restore vehicle stability if a sensor between the front seats detects imminent rollover.

 

KIA PINNING HOPES ON SORENTO
Kia plans on selling some 250,000 vehicles this year, and it’s a trio of models – the Sedona minivan, Optima sedan and the new Sorento SUV – that will spur its sales to those levels, says Peter Butterfield, executive vice president and chief operating officer. The Sorento will be priced below $20,000 when it becomes available at Kia dealers this September, with trimmed-out EX models with 4WD going for less than $24,000. To launch the new sport-ute and boost awareness of the eight-year-old brand, Kia will use its partnership with the Lord of the Rings series to give each person who test-drives a new Kia a copy of the movie on DVD or VHS. A similar promotion with the Sedona minivan and Dreamworks’ Shrek was extremely successful, says Butterfield, in bringing the carmaker new customers – so many that the Sedona remains “basically sold out” a year after its launch. Kia will also embark on a major retailer upgrade in 2003; some 75 percent of Kia’s dealers are dualed with other franchises. —Marty Padgett
Family Matters: Soft-Top Utes by Carol Traeger (7/15/2002)

 

BMW SAYS NO M7
BMW will not build a high-performance version of the controversially styled 7-Series sedan, according to company officials. Helmut Panke, BMW chief executive, told the Automotive Press Association in Detroit that the company has concluded that an M version of the 7-Series is unnecessary. The new 6-Series coupe that BMW plans to launch, however, will be companioned by an M edition. BMW does plan to start offering the 7-Series with a diesel engine in Europe this coming fall.—Joe Szczesny
2002 BMW M3 SMG by Eric Peters (8/5/2002)

2002 Toyota Highlander

2002 Toyota Highlander

 

2002 Toyota Highlander

2002 Toyota Highlander

TOYOTA’S RECALLING THE HIGHLANDER
More than 150,000 Toyota Highlanders are being recalled, the company said on Tuesday. The model-year 2001 and 2002 crossover wagons have a fuel-vapor nozzle that might leak after a collision. The recall, Reuters says, will require a minor fix to the clamps holding the nozzle.
Has Toyota Peaked? by John Rettie (6/3/2002)

 

PUBLIC CITIZEN WANTS ALTIMA RECALL
The consumer advocacy group Public Citizen says Nissan should recall the 1994-1995 Altima sedan for faulty airbags. The group, Reuters reports, says the car’s airbags cause an inordinately high number of eye injuries. Currently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is studying the problem, but has not issued a formal recall. Some 250,000 of the vehicles are still on the road.
Harbour Puts Nissan, GM On Top by Joseph Szczesny (6/17/2002)

 

CADILLAC CELEBRATING WILLARD SCOTT-STYLE
Cadillac hosted 1,300 devoted owners from 27 countries at a reception to begin a weekend celebrating the marque’s centennial. Owners from places as far away as Australia mingled with Cadillac executives past and present, and admired classic Cadillacs at the reception in the General Motors building in Detroit Wednesday night. The venue shifts to the Hyatt Regency hotel in Dearborn Thursday for a weekend of judged shows of vintage Cadillacs and displays of models ranging from 1903 to the present. The Lake St. Clair region chapter of the Cadillac LaSalle Club organized car judging, a parade of the award winners and a banquet with a keynote speech by Robert A. Lutz, GM vice chairman, club member and owner of a 1934 La Salle. “And don’t forget, all this excitement about Cadillac is within sight of Ford world headquarters in Dearborn,” one executive said with a smile.—Mark Phelan
Detroit’s Classic Traffic Jams by Mike Davis (7/29/2002)

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