Auto news in brief: Clunkers program rattles some


April 5, 2009

Auto news in brief: Clunkers program rattles some

Clunkers program rattles some

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea of a cash for clunkers program. The businesses that provide the parts to keep those clunkers driveable are fighting it.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association said enacting such a program would harm the environment, waste taxpayer dollars, hurt repair and parts businesses and remove a lot of valuable parts from the public when those clunkers are destroyed.

"It seems arrogant to destroy perfectly good vehicles with many more years of useful life just to entice consumers to purchase a car that they might not be able to afford," said Kathleen Schmatz, AAIA president and CEO. "This is hauntingly reminiscent to the home mortgage debacle when consumers purchased homes they could not afford."

A House bill favored by Detroit automakers and the UAW would offer vouchers of $3,000 to $7,500 to owners of vehicles that are at least 8 years old to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles built in North America.

Fleet sales take a beating

Everyone seems to staying away from auto showrooms, but some groups are really staying away. Not surprisingly, the less people make the more likely they are not to be buying cars, according to CNW Research. The sales segment that is really down is fleet sales — both business and government.

More buyers are turning to used vehicles, with the notable exception of businesses and government.

Fusion gets rolling

Ford Motor Co.’s Fusion midsize car — including the hybrid version that Ford is promoting as the most fuel-efficient midsize car in America — seems to be off to a strong start.

The Fusion and the Fusion Hybrid have been on sale for just over two weeks, and so far, more than 90% of new Ford Fusion buyers are opting for the hybrid version, Ford reports.

The hybrid also is getting positive reviews from critics. Consumer Reports wrote in a blog on Thursday that the Fusion "handles more nimbly" than the Toyota Prius, a compact hybrid that gets 44 m.p.g.

"The Fusion Hybrid is also impressively quiet, especially considering its four-cylinder power plant," the respected consumer magazine said.

The Consumer Report blog writer really liked the electronic vines on the instrument panel that grow when the fuel economy increases.

"I, for one, have never seen electronic leafy vines ‘growing’ in my gauge cluster before," Eric Evarts wrote. "At first, driving as I normally do, the plant had only one leaf. Within a block or two of starting to drive gently to maximize fuel efficiency, the plant grew about five leaves."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the Fusion Hybrid, with its 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, gets 41 m.p.g. in the city and 36 on the highway.

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