Key to the Highway

Observations about cars and the auto industry

Archive for the News Category

Only 52.25 Percent from Here to the Good Ol’ Days

Half the year is gone, and with June’s auto sales figures out the annualized number for the U.S. market is 11.1 million vehicles. Sure, a lot of automakers posted big increases from June of last year, but the reality is the industry has a long way to go.

We Bet You Can Hum Along With This Tune

GM announced today that the deal to sell mega-SUV brand Hummer to Chinese-based Sichuan Tengzhong has fallen through.

Deal to Buy Saab Falls Through

General Motors announced this week that the preliminary deal to sell Saab has fallen apart. Swedish super-car maker Koenigsegg withdrew its offer to buy Saab from GM, leaving the 62-year-old brand’s future very much in doubt.

Volvo Recalls XC60

Volvo voluntarily recalls nearly 10,000 XC60 to repair driver seat belt issue.

Pontiac, 1926-2009*

The Pontiac Division, once a brand known for high-performance models such as the GTO and Formula Firebird, has died after a long illness. It was 83. Pontiac is survived by four brothers, Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC; and three cousins, Saturn, Saab and Hummer. Services are pending.

Up On the Roof

You can add roof strength to the tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and with it comes another rating that consumers can use to evaluate their choices when shopping for a vehicle. To kick things off, the institute tested 12 small SUVs. The results are not pretty.

Kill da Wabbit

Volkswagen has decided to drop the Rabbit nameplate and return to calling its hatchback the Golf. All part of a global naming strategy, the company says. Rabbit was the name from 1975 until 1984, when the Golf name was first used as part of a global naming strategy.

To the Sun and Back? Not Quite …

… but the XOF1 solar car and driver Marcelo da Luz reached the Arctic Circle along the way to setting a world record and clocking more than 12,500 miles powered only by sun light since leaving Toronto on June 12, 2008.

Diesel Gets Up to Speed

To many Americans, diesel is the powerplant of plodding garbage trucks or the terrible 1980s GM car Uncle Earl owned. It’s an impression heavily seasoned with the words “noisy,” “smelly” and “dirty.” Sure, clean-diesel passenger cars are quiet, clean, and you’ll be hard pressed to smell even a whiff of exhaust. But what about speed?

2008 Auto Sales: Skid Marks Before the Cliff

Most automakers announced December sales figures today, and once again the news is dismal. However, the annual declines are what deserve our attention. GM and Ford haven’t seen sales figures this low since the late 1950s and early 1960s, respectively. The General realized a 22.7 percent decline in sales for 2008 vs. 2007; Ford notched 22.8 percent, however that factors in Land Rover and Jaguar, which were sold to Tata Motors in mid-2007. [Full data from Automotive News]