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  • http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/stor...&sec=lifefocus

    Singing the right tune

    The latest hybrid edges Malaysians a step closer towards green driving habits.

    HONDA Malaysia has launched the country’s most affordable petrol/electric hybrid car – the Jazz Hybrid – with a price tag of RM94,800, including insurance.

    Based on the sporty-looking Jazz five-door hatchback, the Jazz Hybrid uses a 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with 88bhp coupled to a 14hp Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) electric motor, a system similar to that used by the Honda Insight hybrid model.

    The latest hybrid edges Malaysians a step closer towards green driving habits.

    HONDA Malaysia has launched the country’s most affordable petrol/electric hybrid car – the Jazz Hybrid – with a price tag of RM94,800, including insurance.

    Based on the sporty-looking Jazz five-door hatchback, the Jazz Hybrid uses a 1.3-litre i-VTEC petrol engine with 88bhp coupled to a 14hp Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) electric motor, a system similar to that used by the Honda Insight hybrid model.
    The all new Honda Jazz Hybrid.

    It also comes with a continuously variable transmission system to deliver smooth driving and frugal fuel consumption.

    The stylish vehicle promises 25% to 30% lower fuel consumption compared to a non-hybrid 1.5-litre Jazz variant while offering similar performance.

    The car can travel 21.3km on a litre of petrol.

    It has front and rear bumpers which are redesigned to be 3% more aerodynamic compared with the regular Jazz variant. In addition, it also has low rolling resistance tyres and low drag brake calipers to improve fuel economy.

    Drivers can choose to activate the ECON driving mode for better fuel economy.

    The Jazz Hybrid is fitted with a large chrome grille, LED tail lights in clear housing, chrome rear licence plate garnish and hybrid badging to differentiate it from non-hybrid variants.

    It retains key features of the Jazz line-up such as Ultra Seats, paddle shifters and a spacious boot space.

    The IMA battery pack and Intelligent Power Unit (IPU) have been integrated under the boot floor area whereas the non-hybrid variant keeps its spare tyre.

    With this arrangement, the Jazz Hybrid does not have a spare tyre, and uses an emergency repair and inflator kit to fix punctures.

    Other features include six airbags, hill-start assist, anti-lock braking system, vehicle stability assist, brake assist, cruise control and 15-inch wheels.

    Colour choices are Fresh Lime Metallic, Alabaster Silver, Milano Red, Crystal Black Pearl and Taffeta White.

    Honda Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer Yoichiro Ueno said the company was targeting to sell 3,000 units of the Jazz Hybrid this year.

    He also said the company hopes to sell a total of 10,000 units of hybrid cars this year of which 7,000 units would be contributed by the Insight and CR-Z models.

    “We will continue to introduce more new hybrid models for Malaysians,” he added.

    The Jazz Hybrid comes with a 5-year/140,000km warranty for IMA battery which is the same for the Insight and CR-Z models.


    Honda Hybrid Owners May Get Cash


    SAN DIEGO (AP) -- A San Diego judge has finalized his approval of a settlement agreement that would give owners of Honda Civic hybrids up to $200 cash over claims that fuel economy was inflated.

    Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor listened to nearly two hours of arguments Friday before issuing the final ruling.

    The ruling provides between $100 and $200 -- plus rebates -- to owners of about 200,000 vehicles from model years 2003 to 2009. It also would award plaintiff attorneys more than $8 million.

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    • http://www.tennessean.com/usatoday/a...ext|Business|p

      Honda Fit scores with family judges in Subcompact Shootout

      ARCADIA, Calif. (USA TODAY) — Robyn Gerry-Rose and Erik Rose aren't exactly car people.

      These days, they are focusing on re-establishing their careers. The married couple from Culver City, Calif., has no plans to start a family, catering instead to a pair of cats.

      They actually are very much the kind of people who buy small, entry-level cars, like those showcased in the Cars.com/USA TODAY $16,000 Subcompact Shootout.

      Robyn, 27, an audio technician, and Erik, 40, an illustrator, took turns behind the wheel of each of the seven contenders and came away with strong opinions, even though they aren't car shopping. They are delighted with the 1995 Toyota Avalon sedan they currently share.

      In the end, they settled on the Honda Fit hatchback as their clear favorite for its power, comfort and visibility. They chose it despite being initially turned off by its snout, which Erik described as "insect-looking."

      Their twin dogs were the Kia Rio— which they found noisy, rough and sluggish — and Nissan Versa, which seemed cheap.

      They judged Versa, the cheapest car in the Shootout, not a value, even at a price some $3,000 below the rivals. They faulted the steering, ride and brake response. "You get what you pay for. It doesn't feel like you're getting a new car," Erik said.

      Erik's putdown for the Rio and Versa: "If someone gave me one of those two cars, I would trade it in for a motorcycle."

      Rio's corporate sibling, the Hyundai Accent, elicited little response from him: "a nice car but not spectacular."

      Among the others, the two Detroit models fared well: They generally liked a lot about the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet's new Sonic.

      Erik liked the motorcycle-like features of the Sonic, such as its dashboard display. Robyn appreciated the ease with which she could use her MP3 player. As for the Fiesta, she said, "They want you to forget that it's a Ford."

      Robyn liked the acceleration and handling more in the Chevy. In the Fiesta, she said, "I don't feel like the car is hugging the road like the last one."

      The Toyota Yaris didn't evoke much response. Although it's one of the newer models, they knocked it as feeling dated.

      By contrast, they thought the Honda Fit could do little wrong during their drive. "As soon as you sit in it and drive it, you feel at home," Erik said. And Robyn said it surprised her: "It is not normally a car that I would consider."

      She gave strong marks for overall value, and a backhanded compliment: "It's still ugly, but it's a great car."



      New, more efficient cars could save you gas money

      DETROIT — Gasoline prices are headed for record highs this spring. If that happens, a new, more fuel-efficient car may be worth the investment.

      Gas has jumped 54 cents to an average of $3.81 per gallon this year. By next month, the price could break the all-time record of $4.11 in July 2008.

      Four years ago, car companies didn’t have enough fuel-sipping small cars to satisfy buyers, and that hurt sales. But they’ve put far more emphasis on fuel economy since then, and there’s now a wide selection of efficient cars and SUVs.

      Want a car that gets 50 miles per gallon? Check. Need an SUV that gets 30 mpg? Check. Want an electric car that uses no fuel at all? Check.

      “The American consumer shopping for a new car is seeing the most fuel-efficient lineup of vehicles ever,” says Jesse Toprak, vice president of market intelligence at the auto shopping site TrueCar.com.

      Ed Tonkin, who runs 17 dealerships in the Portland, Ore., area, says he’s seeing more people trading in trucks and SUVs for gas sippers. Buyers are assuming pump prices will stay high.

      “We’re getting a lot more interest in higher gas mileage vehicles,” Tonkin says.

      As always, do the math before committing to a new vehicle, even one that promises to save you money on gas. Hybrids and diesels might offer impressive fuel economy, but they cost more, so be sure you’ll drive them long enough to make up that premium. At today’s gas prices, for example, it would take about 7.3 years to make up the price difference between a 2012 Toyota Camry hybrid and its gasoline-powered equivalent, according to auto information site Edmunds.com. Downsizing to a smaller car can also save you money, but you may not want to sacrifice the space.

      Here are some fuel-saving 2012 models. Fuel economy numbers come from the Environmental Protection Agency. Estimates are based on a typical combination of city and highway driving.

      The newest Toyota hybrid, the Prius c, is a compact hatchback targeted at younger buyers. It gets an estimated 50 miles per gallon, but it starts at nearly $19,000, which is high for many buyers in this bracket. One answer: Go smaller. The Scion iQ, which is just 10 feet long, gets the government’s nod as the most fuel-efficient subcompact. The four-seater gets 37 mpg and starts at $15,995. There are plenty of cheaper subcompact cars in the 33 to 34 mpg range. The Nissan Versa four-door starts at $10,990. For a more chiseled, eye-catching design, consider the Hyundai Accent, which starts at $12,545, or the Ford Fiesta, which starts at $13,200.

      — The family of four. The Ford Escape hybrid is a midsize SUV that gets 32 mpg, the highest in its category. But at $30,570, it’s $9,000 more than a base model Escape. There are several non-hybrid, five-seat SUVs that get 26 mpg and cost under $25,000. They include the Chevrolet Equinox, Honda CR-V and Hyundai Tucson.

      You can get even better fuel economy if you can pack your family into a midsize sedan. The Kia Optima has one of the lower-priced hybrid sedans on the market. It gets 37 mpg and starts at $25,700 — or $4,700 more than the gas version. Diesel cars, which are around 30 percent more efficient, can also save you money at the pump. Volkswagen has two diesels that cost around $26,000 (or $6,000 more than the regular gas versions): the 34-mpg Jetta SportWagon and the 35-mpg Passat midsize sedan. Diesel fuel is currently around 30 cents more than regular gas, so that will cut into the amount you save.

      — Going electric. Manufacturers are still working out the kinks in electric cars. Consider General Motors’ recent decision to fix the Chevy Volt’s battery to decrease the risk of fires after crashes. Then there’s the question of refueling. On the road, recharging stations are still few and far between, and some drivers worry they’ll run out of juice on longer trips. At home, electric cars can be charged from an outlet, but it’s slower than a charging station. You have to pay to install a station in your garage — if you have one. But for some drivers, it’s exhilarating to be among the first to own a gas-free or nearly gas-free car.

      The Mitsubishi i — on sale now on the West Coast —will roll out to other states later this year. It’s the most efficient car in the U.S., with a miles-per-gallon equivalent of 112 — that’s a measure of how much energy it uses — and estimated annual electric costs of $550. It starts at $29,125. For buyers concerned about how far they can drive on a charge, the Volt has a backup gas engine that kicks in when its battery is drained. The Volt is $39,145. All electric cars are currently eligible for a $7,500 tax credit.

      — The luxury buyer. Even if you have money to spend, you don’t want to blow it at the gas pump. Buick’s eAssist system, which uses battery power to boost the gas engine’s fuel economy, helps both the sporty Buick Regal and the Buick LaCrosse sedan get 29 mpg. Both cars cost around $30,000. Several other luxury models are in the 28-mpg range, like the $34,900 BMW 328i. Beware: They use premium gas, which costs more. There’s also luxury hybrids, such as the Lexus CT 200h, a small car that gets 42 mpg and starts at $29,120; and the larger Lincoln MKZ, which gets 39 mpg and starts at $34,755. And if money is no object? Tesla’s all-electric Roadster sports car will set you back $130,450.

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      • Honda and Sprinkles Bake Up Sweet CR-V Marketing Program


        American Honda teams up with famous cupcake maker for irresistible mall-based promotional campaign.

        TORRANCE, Calif., March 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- American Honda has teamed up with Sprinkles Cupcakes on a delectable mall-based marketing program to promote interest in the segment-leading 2012 Honda CR-V. The Honda CR-V Mall Tour will provide free Sprinkles cupcakes to those who check out the all-new 2012 CR-V.

        (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20120319/LA72635)

        (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100923/HONDALOGO)

        Kicking off this Thursday, March 22 at the Westfield Main Place Mall in Santa Ana, Calif., the Honda CR-V Mall Tour will center around a colorful Honda and Sprinkles branded display space, anchored by a 2012 Honda CR-V.

        The Honda CR-V Mall tour will visit six prime retail locations from March 22 until May 6, 2012. Kicking off at the Westfield Main Place Mall in Santa Ana, the tour will make five additional stops: Irvine, Calif. (Irvine Spectrum, March 29 - April 1); Los Angeles (Westside Pavilion, April 12 - 15); Scottsdale, AZ (Scottsdale Fashion Square, April 19 - 22); Arlington, VA (Fashion Center at Pentagon City, April 26 - 29); Houston, TX (Houston Galleria, May 3 - 6).

        About the Honda CR-V
        The all-new 2012 Honda CR-V provides a more fuel-efficient engine design with improved horsepower and torque. New for 2012 features include an Easy Fold-Down 60/40 Split Rear Seat, lower cargo floor and a range of standard technology features including a Bluetooth® HandsFreeLink® phone interface, Pandora® Internet Radio interface(1) and a multi-angle rearview camera.

        About Sprinkles Cupcakes
        Since opening the world's first cupcake bakery in Beverly Hills, Sprinkles Cupcakes has offered fans handcrafted confections from the finest ingredients, containing no preservatives, trans fats or artificial flavors. Sprinkles has locations in Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, La Jolla and Palo Alto, CA; Dallas and Houston, TX; New York, NY; Washington, DC; Chicago, IL; Scottsdale, AZ; as well as a traveling Sprinklesmobile. Sprinkles also sells its cupcake mixes at over 250 Williams-Sonoma stores throughout the US and Canada.

        Connect with Honda:
        Media Newsroom (for journalists): www.hondanews.com
        Honda CR-V (for consumers): http://automobiles.honda.com/cr-v/
        Honda CR-V on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hondacrv
        YouTube: www.youtube.com/honda
        Flickr: www.flickr.com/hondanews
        Twitter: www.twitter.com/honda
        Honda on Google+

        The Bluetooth® word mark and logos are owned by the Bluetooth SIG, Inc., and any use of such marks by Honda Motor Co., Ltd., is under license.

        (1) Carrier data charges may apply.


        2nd iteration of Acura RDX rolling from E. Liberty


        The first vehicle in an expected busy year for the Acura luxury car line began production Monday.

        Honda of America Manufacturing Inc. started work on the Acura RDX at its East Liberty plant Monday. The crossover sport-utility vehicle, which is entering its second generation with the 2013 model, will be in showrooms this spring.
        The $34,320 starting sticker price is up about 4 percent from $32,895 the last model year. The RDX comes in four versions, with or without all-wheel drive and with or without a technology package that includes a navigation system with voice recognition, a 60-gigabyte hard disk drive and a GPS-linked solar-sensing, climate control system among other amenities.

        According to information from Honda (NYSE:HMC), the exterior has been redesigned for a sleeker look, and the interior was changed to add utility, new materials and improve noise insulation.
        The RDX rollout marks the second new launch for the East Liberty plant in the past three months. That facility also is cranking out the redesigned 2013 Honda CR-V.
        Honda first showed off its new Acuras, including the concept NSX supercar and the entry-level ILX, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The concept 2013 Honda Accord coupe, as well as the ILX and the 2012 RDX were among the vehicles on display in Columbus at this past weekend’s 2012 Columbus International Auto Show.
        Last edited by tokyodream; 20-03-12, 05:01.
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        • India to become global center for Honda diesel engines


          Honda Motors has planned to develop a diesel motor for India, through which India is expected to emerge as a center for compact diesel cars imported globally. From 2012-13 Union budget, there is no rise in excise duty on diesel cars, Honda Motor Siel India is set to launch a diesel variant for the local market. According to reports, the Japanese automaker has already started developing diesel motors prototypes of capacity 1.4-litre to 1.5-litre that will be housed in compact cars, and these are developed in the R&D department of Honda, located in Tochigi. Jnaneswar Sen, Honda India’s senior VP, Sales and Marketing, announced that the Japanese giant is presently developing a small diesel motor at its R&D department. However, the engine is in its premature development stages and it will not be introduced anytime in current calendar.

          India being the hub of global diesel engines, HMSI will first test the diesel engine for compact cars in Indian market before setting up a plant here for international markets. We had previously brought you the news of Honda powering its hatch lineup- Jazz and Brio by diesel engines. Honda is targeting 100,000 units of diesel cars, which includes export units, before setting up a local plant for diesel engines, while its current capacity is 1.2 lac diesel cars. Honda unveiled its 1.6-litre diesel engine for powering the new Civic at Tokyo Motor Show. This new Honda Civic is developed in its engine manufacturing facility in Swindon, UK and is expected to hit the European markets soon. Whereas the Accord and Honda CR-V get a 2.2 liter diesel engine.

          Honda further announced that though there can be beatdown versions of the 2.2-litre diesel motors for better fuel efficiency, but with only a few Accord and CR-V models running on Indian roads, the beatdown is not justified. Moreover, to meet the European norms, Honda had to develop engine with lower Sulphur emissions, while the Indian variant has higher Sulphur emission figure. With the German rival Volkswagen providing diesel options to the customers, Honda is facing tough competition, and though it has 15 years of experience in Indian market, shifting to diesel variant is the only way to survive the competition. It currently has 2 percent share in the Indian market.



          Honda Tops KBB.com ‘Best Family Car’ Rankings

          Recognizing that today’s families come in all shapes and sizes, the team at Kelley Blue Book’s KBB.com picked a wide range of different types of vehicles for its “10 Best Family Cars of 2012,” but three of them did have at least one thing in common: They’re sold by Honda. In fact, with the Civic, CR-V and Odyssey all making the cut, Honda was the only automaker with more than one vehicle on the list.

          The “perfectly practical” Odyssey was honored for offering all the typical “minivan must-haves,” but KBB.com’s editors also noted that it “has an almost passionate side, expressed in its strong V6 engine, oddly capable handling and comparatively stylish exterior.”

          The Civic, recognized as “smaller and more affordable than the prototypical family car,” still garnered kudos for delivering “plenty [of] car for many families.” Its stellar EPA ratings of up to 28 mpg city/39 mpg highway/32 mpg combined and new intelligent Multi Information Display (i-MID) were lauded by the website as well.

          The CR-V was chosen for its “contemporary look and feel,” along with its improved fuel-efficiency numbers and available all-wheel-drive system. In addition, as pointed out by KBB.com, “the new CR-V is also one of the few in the class to offer a rear-seat entertainment system.”

          “We are honored to have three members of the Honda lineup recognized as benchmark family cars by Kelley Blue Book’s kbb.com,” said Michael Accavitti, vice president of marketing operations for American Honda. “To be recognized as providing the kind of safety, features and value required of the modern family machine speaks to the core attributes of every Honda vehicle.”



          New Goals for the Honda Civic CNG?

          The Anaheim Ducks’ star forward George Parros is clearly one of the smarter players in professional hockey today, and not just because he went from the Ivy League to the National Hockey League; the graduate of Princeton University and veteran of seven NHL campaigns also is a two-time owner of a Honda Civic Natural Gas—the only manufacturer-built passenger car sold in the U.S. to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). In fact, Parros recently traded in his previous one for the brand-new 2012 model. It’s part of an ongoing relationship between the automaker and the Ducks, who just happen to play their home games in the Honda Center.

          “George is an ideal representative for the Honda Civic Natural Gas vehicle and embodies many of Honda’s core attributes; he has a strong sense for environmental issues, is value driven, and is active in his community,” explained Steve Center, vice president of the Environmental Business Development Office at American Honda.

          Both also have notched some impressive achievements in their respective fields, as Parros won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007, while the Civic Natural Gas was named this year’s Green Car of the Year: The car’s powerplant is the cleanest internal-combustion engine certified by the EPA, and it’s so clean that it allows Parros—and its other California owners—to drive solo in the state’s special car-pool lanes. Another benefit, according to Center: “A refueling price typically 30 percent less than gasoline.”

          For more information on the Civic Natural Gas, which is now available in 36 states across America, contact your local Honda dealer.


          2013 Acura RDX Production Begins in East Liberty, Ohio


          It’s only been about a month since the Chicago Auto Show debut of the production-spec 2013 Acura RDX, but the car has just started production at an Acura plant in Ohio, according to Honda.

          While the first generation of Acura’s RDX compact utility vehicle was made at the Marysville, Ohio plant (alongside the Acura TL and Honda Accord), Acura moved production of the second generation model to the nearby East Liberty, Ohio plant, where it will be built alongside the Honda Crosstour and CR-V crossovers. Acura also promises that much of the car will be made with American parts, including engines assembled in nearby Anna, Ohio, and transmissions from Russells Point, Ohio.

          2013 Acura RDX Production Begins in East Liberty, Ohio imageWith the first of the RDXs coming off the East Liberty line as you read this, Honda’s officially halfway through a $166 million expansion and retooling of the East Liberty plant, promising to make the plant more efficient while keeping up with the brisk demand for the CR-V.

          Honda and Acura are hoping that the RDX’s demand will be brisk as well: the car has been redesigned with simplicity and broad appeal in mind. The old car’s intricate and expensive turbocharged four-cylinder engine and torque vectoring Super Handling All-Wheel Drive have been thrown out. In their place is a simpler and brawnier 3.5-liter V-6 (which also promises better fuel economy), and a simpler all-wheel drive setup.

          The car will go on sale next month, starting at $35,305, including destination charges.


          Honda trimming U.S. workforce with voluntary buyouts

          According to Automotive News, Honda has instituted a new Voluntary Retirement Program that allows employees 59 years of age and older who have 15 or more years with the company "to retire early with some enhancements to their retirement plan." Honda reserves the right to reject applicants, so apparently not everyone will qualify.

          Employees who are accepted into the program will receive a year's base salary, a premium for each year they've put in at the company, retiree health care and COBRA dental and vision coverage. Honda last made such an offer in April of 2009 amidst the global economic meltdown and said in a statement that it has no plans to offer any more early-retirement programs in the foreseeable future.

          Honda says it is expecting a "relatively small" number of employees to opt for the buyout package.



          LoJack lists most stolen cars, ten worst states for auto theft in 2011

          2011 was a historic year for car thefts – and not in a good way, either. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that the recovery rate for stolen vehicles hit a 25-year low of just 56 percent.

          Vehicle theft recovery specialists at LoJack would like to point out, however, that vehicles stolen with their system installed had a 92 percent recovery rate in the U.S. last year. But LoJack’s sales pitch aside, the company’s analysis of the most stolen vehicles and most likely states to have your vehicle stolen in are a bit interesting.

          If you just look at model year 2011 vehicles, for example, the company says that the top stolen vehicle last year was the Toyota Camry, followed by the Mercedes-Benz C300, Ford F350, Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. If you consider all models five years old or newer by year, make and model, the 2007 Toyota Camry tops the list again, followed by the 2010 Toyota Corolla, 2007 Cadillac Escalade, 2009 Camry and 2007 Corolla.

          But if you just want to keep things simple and forget specific mode years and limiting factors, you will find the Honda Accord at the top of the most stolen models, followed (surprise surprise) by the Toyota Camry, Acura Integra, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford F-250.

          What states should you be ware of parking your car outside in? California tops them all, followed by Texas, Florida, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, Arizona, Georgia and Nevada.

          Fun factoids: The oldest vehicle ever recovered thanks to a LoJack? A 1948 Chevrolet Fleetline. Most pricey? Somewhat surprisingly, a $116,825 2010 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG.
          Last edited by tokyodream; 21-03-12, 08:09. Reason: completare
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          • Rumored: Honda, Acura Could Adopt ZF 9-Speed Automatic By 2014


            Although most of Honda’s recent powertrain news has surrounded CVTs and dual-clutch transmissions, that shouldn’t be taken as a sign the automaker is abandoning conventional automatics altogether. In fact, the automaker will likely adopt a 9-speed automatic by 2014 at the earliest.

            Automotive News first reported in late 2011 that Honda was planning on launching an eight- or nine-speed automatic in the near future, but a source close to the program now tells us the automaker will use the new nine-speed transverse automatic developed by German powertrain supplier ZF.

            If that gearbox sounds vaguely familiar, it should: it’s set to make its initial debut in a string of Chrysler Group vehicles over the next two years. Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne first hinted at using/developing the transmission in late 2010. Chrysler itself has been relatively mum on the subject, but UAW officials at the company’s plant in Toledo, Ohio, have suggested the replacement for the Jeep Liberty will be one of the first applications of the transmission.

            The transmission, which ZF calls the 9HP, is designed for transverse installations, making it suitable for front- and all-wheel-drive platforms. Although Honda has typically developed its own transmissions, the 9HP will be a significant departure from Honda’s existing automatics in that it utilizes planetary gearsets in order to save space (ZF says the gearbox measures 20.5 inches wide, 16.6 in tall, and 14.5 inches deep).

            ZF proclaims the gearbox is capable of handling up to 354 lb-ft of torque, and can support both start/stop and hybrid drive systems. The total gearing spread is quite wide (9.84:1), and taller gear ratios in the upper range of the gearbox allegedly play a big part in improving fuel economy by 10-16 percent. The supplier claims an engine mated to the 9HP needs to run at a mere 1900 rpm in order to propel a vehicle at 75 mph.

            Honda officials refrained from confirming or denying the gearbox or its future applications, noting it’s company policy not to comment on future product plans. Given every Honda and Acura model currently on the market places its engine in a transverse fashion, the possibilities are theoretically endless, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this transmission is relegated to heavier and more upscale midsize models. Models like the Odyssey and Pilot, along with the Acura MDX and TL, are all potential recepients. Presently, these models utilize Honda’s 3.5-liter and 3.7-liter V-6 engines, and produce between 253 and 270 lb-ft of torque, respectively – well within the capabilities of the 9HP.

            What remains to be seen is how the 9HP will be rolled out. We know ZF should start building 9HPs within its South Carolina plant in 2013 for Chrysler, but rumor has it Honda won’t start using the transmission until 2014. If so, the next-generation Acura TL, which is expected to launch in late 2013, could be one of the first vehicles to utilize the transmission.



            Honda stays course, keeps Thai capacity


            Honda has reaffirmed it will not leave Thailand, which will continue to be its major base for Asia and Oceania.

            "Honda is not shifting its production from Thailand to any other countries," the local subsidiary said in a statement yesterday.

            Honda Automobile (Thailand) emerged to confirm its presence in Thailand and clear the air over speculation it may relocate its production base.

            Last week, the company unveiled plans for a new US$337-million factory in Indonesia just days after saying it would build a new motorcycle factory in Asean's largest economy.

            The company statement said expanding production capacity in Indonesia is part of the long-term development strategy for that market.

            These expansion plans were in place well before the floods that affected Honda's Thai facilities, it said.

            The new factory outside Jakarta is aimed at addressing Indonesia's booming demand for small automobiles.

            Located beside Honda's existing plant that produces the Jazz, CR-V and Freed models, the new factory will make the Brio for the domestic market.

            It will be operated by PT Honda Prospect Motor (HPM), a joint venture between Honda Motor Co (51%) and PT Prospect Motor (49%) that was formed in March 1999.

            HPM will begin importing Brios from Thailand this year and then begin local production of them in Indonesia at the existing plant by the end of next year.

            It will transfer production of the Brio to the new plant in 2014.

            "Honda's investment in a new car plant in Indonesia has nothing to do with its investment in Thailand," said Anjali Jalichandra, the corporate affairs manager at Asian Honda Motor Co Ltd.

            Mrs Anjali said Honda will resume production at its Rojana Industrial Park factory about the middle of next week. Full capacity is expected by next month.

            Earlier, a statement by Hiroshi Kobayashi, the parent company's managing officer and chief operating officer for Asia and Oceania, raised concerns about the company's future in Thailand.

            "Our operations in Indonesia will take the next step to become more autonomous and play an even more important role for Honda in this region. Honda will not only build automobiles in Indonesia to meet the needs of customers here. Indonesia will serve as a key export base for Honda _ for both completed vehicles and components," he said in that statement.

            Honda's Ayutthaya plant was battered by last year's devastating floods that brought its vehicle production to a complete halt in October.

            The factory normally produces 240,000 vehicles annually. Besides damage to the factory, 1,055 finished cars were totalled and had to be scrapped.


            Spy Shots: Honda Elysion testing in China

            New spy shots from the Honda Elysion testing in China. The Elysion will be made by the Dongfeng-Honda joint venture, it will be listed on the Chinese car market in July and debut at the Beijing Auto Show next month.

            Price will likely start around 200.000 yuan and go up all da way to 300.000 yuan. Engines for the China car market: 2.4 four-cylinder and possibly a 3.0 V6 as well. The Elysion will be the first MPV for the Dongfeng-Honda joint venture. Honda makes the Odyssey in China but at their other joint venture, Guangzhou-Honda.

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            • http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/2...l/social1.html

              It's a Honda CRV Party

              WESTERN BUREAU:

              ATL Automotives took its 'Honda Dream Experience' to Montego Bay last Thursday, officially launching the 2012 Honda CR-V and the sexy Honda Civic in western Jamaica.

              As early as 7 p.m., even before the affable Weston Haughton opened the event, it was a given that this was, 'lights, camera, action' on the car-show runway.

              Honda outdid itself again, this time with the new-shape CR-V. Stepping up the features to heights unexplored by others, ATL unveiled its Bluetooth-ready, reverse camera, multifunction steering wheel vehicle, complemented with the other signature extras of the large interior and large trunk space that makes this car special.

              As if this was not enough, the two eco-friendly cars showcased by the automotive dealers come with features which give lower fuel emission and better fuel consumption, boasted ATL Auto's new sales manager, Tanya-Sue Young.

              Exquisite vehicle

              The Civic carries a nice, sporty shape that Jamaicans no doubt will love, and is enhanced by some of the most amazing colours, such as up-to-the-minute Mediterranean blue, and a pretty Basque red. Moreover, this 2012 car is reasonably priced.

              It's easy to fall in love with this Honda Civic, particularly with its delightful features. It is trendy and very pretty, somewhat welcoming, especially when the ignition is turned on and the entire dashboard lights up. The look could pass for that of an airplane cockpit.

              Within two hours of viewing and enjoying the spectacular model, dancers and prospective buyers, and even lending agencies, were out for the picking.

              "ATL is committed to providing cars for every lifestyle. We have something for everyone," said Young.

              For sure, anyone can sell four wheels, but when it comes to matching vehicles to lives and people's needs, ATL Automotives succeeded.


              Deals of the week: Honda CR-Z, Ford Flex Titanium, Cadillac CTS and Subaru Tribeca


              The fastest-growing segments of the market this year will be luxury cars and light trucks, predicts auto analyst Dennis DesRosiers. That means sharp buyers should be able to mine at least some of the deals driving those red-hot sales.

              “The luxury/large/sport segments grew 15.9 per cent in February, and are up 24.7 per cent [for the year to date],” notes DesRosiers in a recent report.

              “These will be critical segments to watch all year,” he says, as “Canada is poised to have a blow-out vehicle sales year.

              “I’m not predicting that just yet, but everything is coming into focus fairly quickly. The real test will be the next three months, which are the most popular vehicle buying months each year.”

              This is the time of year when auto companies pull out all the stops. They accelerate product launches, sex up promotions and juice sales with all sorts of enticing offers. The expensive end of the market is alive with sales sweeteners.

              For instance…

              Cadillac: GM Canada has as much as $5,000 in play on the luxury version of the CTS wagon, and that does not include any dealer discount a tough negotiator should be able to squeeze out of a hungry, anxious dealer. The CTS wagon is a very European ride, and a totally sensible alternative to a crossover SUV.

              Ford: The Flex Titanium with AWD (all-wheel drive) is the most luxurious version of this crossover. The Flex has received only a tepid response among buyers, which is a shame. Here we have a hugely comfortable ride, with massive amounts of room and plenty of technology – useful technology. Great seats, too. Best of all, Ford of Canada has discounts of as much as $4,000 in play, not including the potential dealer discount.

              Honda: The CR-Z has a $1,000 factory-to-dealer incentive in play, plus that dealer discount you may or may not be able to claim. By definition, hybrids are premium vehicles, and so we’ve included the CR-Z in this group.

              You’re probably never going to recover the price premium you pay for a hybrid, no matter how long you own it, and regardless of what happens to pump prices. Hybrids are a luxury. If you want pure fuel efficiency, there are plenty of less expensive options. But if you want a discounted hybrid, the CR-Z is an option.

              Subaru: Every week I get mails complaining about the price differential between Subarus in Canada and those sold in the U.S. The short answer to this is simple: If you think you can get a better deal in the U.S., go buy your Subaru there. That’s how capitalism works.

              But before you do, have a look at what Subaru Canada is offering in terms of cash discounts. Take the Tribeca SUV. Subaru has a dizzying array of rebates available here and, for the right buyer, they could add up to as much as $4,000 in discounts, perhaps more. Add in whatever dealer offers there are to be had, and the Tribeca’s price starts to look quite interesting.

              As usual, Deals of the Week obtained pricing information from www.carcostcanada.com, among other sources. Here are the numbers.

              2011 Honda CR-Z Sports Coupe

              MSRP: $23,490
              Freight, dealer prep, air conditioning tax: $1,495
              Dealer discount (estimated): $500
              Factory discount: $1,000 (Non-stackable Trading Dollars factory-to-dealer rebate)
              Taxable subtotal: $23,485
              Total price with 13% HST: $26,538.05

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              • http://www.courant.com/community/hc-...?Query=58499HC

                UConn Selected to Participate In The Honda Civic Coupe Marketing Competition

                The University of Connecticut has been selected as one of 20 schools across the country to participate in the Honda Civic Coupe Marketing Competition.

                Students of the MKTG/BADM 3625 (Integrated Marketing Communication) course have been provided a $3,000 budget by Honda to form their own in-class agency, The Brand Storrs, and implement an integrated marketing campaign on campus. All 20 schools will be competing for the chance to present their creative ideas to Honda executives at the term's conclusion.

                The competition will provide students with a unique and exciting learning experience. Students will apply the skills they learn through coursework to a real-world marketing campaign. They will begin by conducting research to find out more about the target market. After they have analyzed their research findings, they will design a campaign aimed at reaching Gen Y and raising interest for the Civic Coupe. At the end of the term, students will collect post-campaign research, and then conclude with a formal presentation to their client summarizing the campaign results and successes.

                "This is a really exciting opportunity for us. It's not every day that students are provided a budget to create and implement their own campaign. It's a potential glimpse into our future careers," says UConn student, Brooke Tlasky.

                Watch for more information about the Honda Civic Coupe Marketing Competition at UConn throughout the spring term. For further inquires regarding the competition, please contact Ashley Greenwood at (203) 598-4876.

                About Honda: Honda is a leader in the development of leading-edge technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, including advanced gasoline engines, gasoline-electric hybrids, natural gas-powered engines, and hydrogen fuel cells. Founded in Japan in 1948, Honda began operations in the U.S. in 1959 with the establishment of American Honda Motor Co., Inc., Honda's first overseas subsidiary. The company, which marked its 50th year of U.S. operations in 2009, has invested more than $10.6 billion in its North American operations with 16 major manufacturing facilities, employment of more than 35,000 associates, and annual purchases of more than $18.8 billion in parts and materials from suppliers in North America.

                About EdVenture Partners: EdVenture Partners is an organization dedicated to developing innovative industry-education partnership programs. The objective of such programs is to provide hands-on, real-world experience to students in tandem with providing marketing solutions and recruiting access at colleges and universities to clients. EdVenture Partners has designed and managed programs at over 1,000 campuses in North America and internationally. Find out more at www.edventurepartners.com.



                Houston Police Show us how Thieves Can Strip a Honda Accord in Less than 10 Minutes

                We don't know if you've seen this video that was sent to us by Carscoop reader Matt R., but it's pretty darn impressive.

                Back in 2010, the Houston Police Department's Auto Theft Division teamed up with Allstate Insurance to demonstrate just how fast your vehicle can be stripped down to the bone for parts using an older generation Honda Accord sedan.

                Three workers from auto body shops in Chicago were able to complete the feat in a mere 8 minutes and 19 seconds! Hop over the jump to watch the video.


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                • http://paultan.org/2012/03/26/honda-...hailand-plant/

                  Honda resumes auto production at flood hit Thailand plant

                  Honda is back on track producing cars in Thailand. Honda Automobile Thailand Co Ltd (HATC), is restarting production today at its Rojana Industrial Park, Ayutthaya facility that was badly hit by the floods that covered Thailand late last year.

                  Production was suspended there since October 4 last year. The process of draining out flood water was completed at the end of November 2011, and then came efforts to clean, inspect, repair and replace plant facilities and manufacturing equipment. After around four months of such restoration work, HATC is now ready for business. The company is planning a ceremony on March 31 to commemorate the restart.

                  Over the past months, Honda has been sourcing vehicles from Japan to some countries in the Asia-Oceania region including Thailand. This will now end since all plants have resumed production, which is expected to normalise in April. For all other Honda plants outside of the region, the impact of the flooding in Thailand has already been resolved. Honda’s Alor Gajah, Melaka plant is also back on steam.

                  “Positioning HATC as one of the most important production operations in the Asia/Oceania Region, Honda was totally committed to realising the earliest possible recovery. Honda will maintain the same positioning of HATC in the future and further promote business operations in Thailand,” Honda said in a statement.



                  It’s eco-ethical to run your car on this fossil fuel

                  The U.S. EnvironmentalProtectionAgency calls the Honda Civic GX the world’s cleanest internal combustion vehicle. How clean? By EPA analysis, it reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 35 per cent, hydrocarbon emissions by 50 per cent and particulate matter emissions by 95 per cent. For all practical purposes, it’s a zero-emissions car.

                  Yet, the Honda GX is neither manufactured nor sold in Canada. It’s made and sold only in the United States – where it exceeds the stringent pure-air standards of the famously tough California Air Resources Board and qualifies for carpool lanes that are open only to the cleanest of vehicles.
                  The Honda GX runs on compressed natural gas, the only alternative fuel so cheap that it doesn’t need government subsidies. Now sold in 197 dealerships in 36 states, it’s an assembly-line family car, the first mass-produced CNG vehicle. It lists at $26,000 (U.S.) and gets good mileage: 30 miles per (U.S.) gallon in city driving, 42 miles per gallon in highway driving. The price of CNG “at the pump” runs $2.50 a gallon – the same price, ironically, that Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich has set as a long-term American goal for regular gasoline.
                  Honda says the GX gets 240 miles per fuelling, twice the distance typically delivered by an all-electric car. Drivers can fill up at gas stations that sell compressed CNG (it takes five minutes); alternatively, they can refuel overnight at home with a modest retrofit of their natural gas heating systems.
                  The U.S. DepartmentofEnergy is a fan, citing the transformative potential of a readily available “domestically produced fuel.” It maintains a website that lists all CNG-equipped service stations in the U.S.; every state except West Virginia and South Dakota now provides CNG fuelling facilities. The department reports 3,609 such stations in the country; California leads the way with 228. This is only half the number of stations that provide battery boosting for electric cars – but the network of CNG stations is expanding rapidly.
                  It’s the assembly-line production of CNG cars that will drive the supply of service stations – and that, in turn, will expand the supply of CNG cars. Retrofitted CNG vehicles are now commonplace – taxis, buses, trucks (including pickups), big construction machines. But the retrofits are a custom job, and expensive ($10,000, for example, per pickup truck). These retrofits pay for themselves only with extraordinary high-mileage use. One U.S. study showed that New York taxi drivers needed to drive 300,000 miles a year to make the retrofit pay for itself in the ordinary (three-year) life of their cabs.
                  The Honda GX, though, heralds an alternative-energy breakthrough. Originally introduced in 1998, the company sold (on average) only a few hundred cars a year – 11,000 in 14 years. In 2011, though, sales tripled; in 2012, they are expected to quadruple. And GM announced earlier this month that it would begin to take orders for pre-customized CNG pickup trucks. (In this scenario, the buyer will still need to install CNG cylinders.) A tipping point for CNG approaches.
                  The mystery, though, remains. Why the political and governmental indifference in Canada to a fuel technology that reduces the demand for oil, which is expensive, and replaces it with natural gas, which is cheap and abundant? Why the government obsession with electric cars that, so far, apparently don’t work all that well? What is it that U.S. environmentalists know that Canadian ones don’t?
                  The cheaper, cleaner fossil fuel got a big boost with Green Car Journal’s announcement that it has named the Honda Civic GX as the 2012 Green Car of the Year. Finalists included the Ford Focus Electric, the Mitsubishi Electric, the Toyota Prius V and the Volkswagen Passat. The magazine selected four prominent environmentalists as judges – Carl Pope, the former chairman of the Sierra Club; Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; and Matt Petersen, president of Global Green USA – along with Tonight Show host and internal combustion enthusiast Jay Leno.
                  In other words, folks, it’s eco-ethical to run your car on a fossil fuel. (Someone should tell Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.)



                  A very Pink Honda Fit from China

                  Still live from Shanghai, China. Here we have a very fine pink Honda Fit, seen by me on a car market in the northern part of this great city (not as great as my own Beijing but close enough..). The Honda Fit is made in China by the Guangzhou-Honda joint venture, and a fine little car it is. Other modifications include a body kit and very racy tires and alloys, no doubt this Shanghai-Fit is a fast one…

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                  • http://www.autoblog.com/2012/03/27/f...fter-six-mont/

                    Flood-stricken Thai Honda plant comes back online after six months [w/video]

                    It's been six months since extensive flooding put a strangle hold on manufacturing in Thailand. Now, Reuters reports that Honda has finally resumed production at its Ayutthaya plant. All told, the disaster is said to have cost the company the production of around 260,000 vehicles worldwide for the fiscal year that ended last month.

                    While a rash of parts suppliers and other manufacturers were forced to shut down during the flooding, Honda was arguably hit the worst. According to Reuters, Toyota and Nissan were able to adjust production to include suppliers from other countries, but Honda was stuck with a fully flooded facility.

                    The Ayutthaya plant builds the Honda Fit for the Asian and Australian markets. After the flood waters receded in October, Honda vowed not to use any parts or sell any vehicles damaged by the disaster. As a result, hundreds of otherwise new vehicles were sent to scrap. Hit the jump to see video of the cars awaiting their destruction.



                    Honda’s W.O.W Concept Car Wows Dog Owners
                    Pet-lovers are treated to a Wonderfully Open-Hearted Wagon (WOW) by Honda

                    Honda has the right idea with this new W.O.W (Wonderfully Open-Hearted Wagon) concept car. The idea was first revealed to the Japanese market, as consumers are starting to own more and more dogs, and demand pet-friendly convenience. This Honda features all kinds of specialty compartments and safety options custom tailored to dog-lovers.

                    Though it looks more like a minivan, the WOW is smaller than a Honda Civic and features a mere 157″ wheelbase. Judging from its size, if it were to actually go into production it would be powered by their popular 1.5 liter four cylinder engine.

                    To find out a little more about this pup-friendly milk wagon watch the 2005 Japanese car show feature video from Fifth Gear:


                    No telling if this vehicle will ever reach a production stage, as most concept vehicles never do, but the design features really speak to an avenue not yet pursued in the auto industry. Manufacturers could really benefit from specialty models geared toward specific lifestyles, much like the Jeep Wrangler attempts to cater to rugged outdoor enthusiasts.

                    The WOW would take that mentality to the next level and offer utilitarian features that no dog-lover could deny. Do I think there’s a large market for these vehicles? Hell yes, it’s time we are offered something unique.



                    Honda Confirms that the Next-Generation Acura RL Will Get the NSX’s Hybrid System

                    Honda gave us a preview of Acura’s new supercar with their NSX concept at this year’s Detroit Auto Show, and now fans of the car have something new to be excited about. The NSX concept was the preview of the much anticipated successor to the NSX supercar, but unlike the original NSX that was solely powered by a V6 engine, the NSX concept featured a new hybrid drivetrain. Honda CEO President Takanobu Ito recently confirmed that the same hybrid system will be used in the next Acura RL flagship sedan.

                    While we have to wait at least three years for the arrival of the NSX, the hybrid system with its dual electric motors and 3.5L V6 direct-injected engine will first find a home under the hood of the 2013 Acura RL. “The technology has outstanding handling,” Ito said. “The thinking behind the RL and NSX systems is the same, but the NSX’s will be more sports-car focused.” While the NSX’s V6 rides midship with the two electric motors powering the front wheels, the system will be flipped in the RL, with the V6 at the front and the electric motors powering the rear wheels.

                    The next-generation Acura RL is expected to debut at the 2012 New York Auto Show and will likely also get a non-hybrid version when it is released. The Acura NSX and RL are not the only hybrids that Honda is planning on adding to its Honda and Acura lineups. This spring, Acura’s first hybrid arrives with the ILX compact sedan and early next year the Honda Accord is going to get a plug-in two-motor hybrid system.



                    UPDATE 1-Dongfeng 2010 net weak, outlook improves on Honda recovery

                    * 2011 net fell on Honda's parts supply woes

                    * Outlook to improve in 2012 as Honda revives

                    * Braved market slowdown, thanks to Nissan

                    * Investing $6.5 billion in 2012 and 2013

                    * New CR-V and Venucia to help lift sales

                    By Fang Yan and Ken Wills

                    BEIJING, March 27 (Reuters) - Dongfeng Motor Group , China's second-largest automaker, reported a 4.6 percent decline in its annual earnings in 2011 as a slowing market and parts supply disruption from natural disasters dented the sales of its Japanese partner, Honda Motor.

                    The outlook should improve steadily in 2012, industry observers say, as the No.3 Japanese automaker recovers.

                    "Honda was a drag for Dongfeng last year. CR-V's production at Dongfeng-Honda was suspended for quite some time because of supply problems," said John Zeng, Asia Pacific chief at industry consultancy LMC Automotive. "But the new CR-V that hit the market in February and other new models at Dongfeng's joint ventures will definitely be a big help."

                    Dongfeng's earned 10.48 billion yuan ($1.66 billion) in 2011 net income, down 4.6 percent from a year earlier and slightly off the consensus forecast of 10.95 billion yuan from 23 analysts polled by Thomson One. Revenue came to 131.44 billion yuan, up 7.4 percent year on year.

                    SAIC had predicted a more than 40 percent jump in its annual earnings on solid auto sales and an asset purchase deal with its state parent.

                    In a statement posted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange website, Dongfeng said it remained upbeat for the outlook and pledged to invest 41.6 billion yuan ($6.59 billion) in 2012 and 2013 in vehicle development and capacity expansion.

                    "We are confident that there are still a lot of opportunities and bright prospect for Chinese auto industry," it said, citing China's low auto penetration rate and strong demand for vehicles in lower tier cities among other factors.

                    Car sales in China climbed 5.2 percent in 2011, the slowest pace of growth since the nation's car culture took off at the turn of the century after Beijing scrapped tax incentives for small cars.

                    The policy change hurt Chinese brands more than foreign brands because people are no longer motivated to buy cheap Chery or BYD cars without any incentives.

                    As such, Dongfeng and other auto groups with foreign affiliations held up better than some independent players, such as BYD and Chery Automobile Co.

                    Dongfeng sold 2.17 million vehicles in 2011, up 11.7 percent, vastly outperforming a 2.5 climb in the overall China market, thanks to stellar performance of its other Japanese partner, Nissan Motor, which made up 68 percent of its annual tally.

                    Dongfeng's bigger rival, SAIC Motor, which makes vehicles in partnership with General Motors and Volkswagen AG, delivered more than 4 million vehicles, up 12 percent.

                    Dongfeng's Hong Kong-listed shares closed at HK$13.2 on Tuesday, down 0.15 percent ahead of the release of its annual earnings, lagging a 1.83 percent gain of the Hang Seng Index .

                    HONDA PARTNER

                    Honda, which contributed to 11.8 percent of Dongfeng's deliveries in 2011, is the smallest of Dongfeng's three foreign partners, which also include PSA Peugeot-Citroen.

                    Honda was also the slowest to recover from supply chain disruptions after the March 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami and it was the only carmaker whose factory was inundated by devastating floods in Thailand, Southeast Asia's export hub.

                    Its global output dropped last year by a fifth to 2.91 million cars, which prompted it to slash its annual profit guidance to the lowest level in three years. [ID: nL4E8CV11N]

                    Honda, which also operates a car venture with Guangzhou Automobile Group Co, recorded a 22.8 percent sales decline in the first two months, lagging the overall market.

                    Sales were expected to pick up as the new CR-V and other new models, hit the showrooms, industry observers say. Dongfeng-Nissan, meanwhile, rolled out their first joint venture brand, Venucia, last week.



                    Two Podium Finishes for RealTime Acuras as World Challenge Season Opens

                    Debut of V6-powered TSX at St. Petersburg pays dividends

                    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 26, 2012) – The 2012 Pirelli World Challenge season got off to a promising start at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for RealTime Racing. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, Wis., earned two runner-up finishes for the Acura squad, while Nick Esayian, of San Diego, Calif., bounced back from a Race One incident to finish fifth in Race Two.

                    The doubleheader on the streets of St. Petersburg represented the debut of the V6-powered Acura TSX in World Challenge competition, a move the team hoped would give it the fire power to compete with a large and diverse GTS category grid. At the season opening weekend, that grid included a slew of Ford Mustang Boss 302s, Chevrolet Camaros, Nissan 370Zs, Porsches, a pair of factory-backed Kia Optimas and a Mitsubishi EVO.


                    The new V6 power in the RealTime Acura TSXs hit the mark straight off the transporter, as Cunningham and Esayian set the GTS pace in the first practice session, running one-two on the time sheet. In qualifying, Cunningham narrowly missed the pole position. Instead, it was the Chevrolet Camaro of Andy Lee that just nipped Cunningham by 0.097-second for the top spot. Esayian qualified fifth in an ultra-close GTS grid where the top eight cars were separated by less than 0.9 seconds.

                    “It’s a testament to the RealTime crew, Acura and HPD that the transition to the V6 engines has gone so seamlessly,” driver and team owner Cunningham said. “I think the straights are going to seem a lot shorter this year!”

                    Saturday - Race One

                    Though Cunningham and Esayian qualified second and fifth in the GTS category, that put them smack in the middle of the 50-car World Challenge field in St. Petersburg. The pair made good use of the new power on the standing start, with Cunningham rocketing into the lead and Esayian picking up one spot and slotting into fourth place.

                    Both RealTime pilots did a tremendous job avoiding the chaos that comes with the opening laps of a street course race. A full-course caution was issued shortly after the start for a four-car incident in turn five. It would be the first of four full-course caution periods in the 50-minute race. Cunningham timed the lap six restart perfectly, never coming under threat from a herd of Ford Mustang Boss 302s lined up behind him.

                    Esayian also held his ground on the first restart, maintaining fourth place, but on the following lap the No. 34 RealTime/Acura/HPD Acura TSX went door-to-door with a Mustang through turn one while battling for position. The hit sent Esayian into the tire wall, ending his day and bringing out the second full-course caution.

                    On the lap 12 restart, Cunningham continued to hold the GTS lead with a pack of Mustangs crowding his rear-view mirror. Just when the No. 42 TSX was able to build a comfortable gap to the rest of the GTS field, a third full-course caution was issued, again bunching everyone back up.

                    When the green flag re-emerged on lap 19, Cunningham found himself trapped behind a lapped Touring Car, which enabled the Mustang of Justin Bell to get the better jump and sneak by into turn one. The six-time World Challenge Champion had something up his sleeve, however, and began to click off a series of fast laps as he kept the Mustang in his sights. With less than five minutes remaining, lapped traffic gave Cunningham the perfect opportunity to slide his TSX past the Mustang, but Bell slammed the door. Shortly thereafter, a fourth full-course caution was issued. The timing couldn’t have been worse, as the clock ran out, forcing the race to end under yellow with Cunningham in second, unable to claim the win.

                    “The final yellow was very frustrating because it prevented us from racing for win today,” Cunningham said. “But I think we’ve proven that the V6 Acura TSX is better suited to GTS competition and is fully capable of going head-to-head with the fastest cars.”

                    More positive news coming out of the first raced included a pole position for Cunningham in Race Two thanks to his fast race lap of 1:21.771 (79.239 mph), the quickest of all GTS competitors by a scant 0.003 of a second. It was his record-extending 42nd pole position in World Challenge Series competition.

                    Sunday – Race Two

                    Race Two began with another strong standing start from the RealTime Racing duo and their Acura TSXs. Cunningham held the GTS lead confidently as the massive World Challenge field funneled into turn one. Meanwhile, Esayian rocketed from 14th on the grid to fifth on the opening lap – a remarkable comeback for the No. 34 TSX which was being repaired by the RealTime team until 2:15 a.m. on Sunday morning.

                    Two early full-course yellows put the pair’s charge temporarily on hold, but on the lap 10 restart, Esayian looked determined to make it a RealTime one-two finish, pulling alongside the Mustang of Jason von Kluge at every opportunity. Another full-course yellow on lap 13 paused Esayian’s bid for second. The lap 16 restart provided a prime opportunity to make another move, but Esayian’s fight with von Kluge only enabled the Californian to fall prey to Saturday’s race winner, Justin Bell, who moved past Esayian and was into second a handful of laps later.

                    It was suddenly déjà vu for GTS leader Cunningham, who had already battled with Bell for the win in Saturday’s race. The Acura ace held Bell off for the better part of five laps, but without a car to draft along the long front straight, the V8 Mustang finally beat Cunningham in a drag race to turn one, taking the GTS lead by turn two. With only a few minutes remaining in the 50-minute race, an opportunity to re-take the lead did not present itself and Cunningham crossed the line in second, extending his record of podium finishes to 106.

                    Esayian was not far behind in fifth, a net gain of 21 positions in the race! His stunning performance earned him the Sunoco Hard Charger Award.

                    “What an amazing job by the RealTime crew,” Esayian said. “I got hit hard in Race One and these guys were up all night getting the car back together. They deserve a trophy today. We didn’t have a warm-up or anything before the race, but the car was fast and by the time the first yellow flag came out I was thrilled to be in fifth!

                    “It would have been nice to put both RealTime cars on the podium today, but I’m really proud of what we accomplished at St. Pete and I’m looking forward to Long Beach. Hopefully, we’ll come through that street race unscathed.”


                    RealTime leaves the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships with a strong position in the point standings. Cunningham is second in the GTS Drivers’ Championship, with 267 points, only 35 points out of first. Esayian leaves St. Petersburg 9th in points with 124, recovering nicely from his DNF in Saturday’s race. Acura currently trails Ford by three points in the GTS Manufacturers’ Championship, 18-15.

                    “St. Pete was a great points weekend for RealTime,” Cunningham said. “It was frustrating to be so close for pole position and both race wins, but that frustration was reduced knowing that the TSX is ready to win races and that we walked away from a street race doubleheader with both cars intact, which is a win in itself.”

                    Next Up

                    Rounds One and Two of the Pirelli World Challenge Championships at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will air on the NBC Sports Network, Sunday, April 8, at 4:30PM ET. The Pirelli World Challenge Championships now travel to the streets of Long Beach, Calif., for the Long Beach Grand Prix presented by StopTech, April 13 – 15. The race will air live on www.world-challengetv.com at 7:15 p.m. ET, with live timing and scoring available at www.world-challenge.com.


                    The 2012 season for RealTime Racing is brought to you by Acura, HPD, Red Line Oil, Eibach Springs, Sparco, BOSCH, Brembo and Total Auto Body.


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                    • http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/...eat-after-lull

                      Honda back in the driver's seat after lull
                      Normal activity to be restored within weeks

                      All of Honda's factories in Ayutthaya have restarted and are expected to be back to normal within weeks, says Pitak Pruittisarikorn, an executive vice-president of Honda Automobile (Thailand).

                      Production at Honda's plants in the province resumed in low volume on Monday and will gradually rise until reaching the normal level of 1,000 units per day during the first two weeks of next month.

                      "We intend to accelerate production to clear the backlog of orders piled up before and after the floods in Thailand," said Mr Pitak.

                      The backlog reached 60,000 units covering all Honda models available in the Thai market, with 60% of orders for the flagship City subcompact.

                      Other models were the Accord mid-sized sedan, the CR-V sport-utility vehicle, the Civic compact car, the Jazz subcompact and the Brio eco-car.

                      The Freed mini multipurpose vehicle imported from Indonesia is also available in the Thai market.

                      "We hope to clear all back orders in the next three months," said Mr Pitak.

                      Honda's Ayutthaya plants were battered by the devastating floods last year.

                      The factories, with annual production capacity of 240,000 vehicles, were submerged by floodwaters, bringing production to a halt in early October.

                      Honda's Thai subsidiary cleaned, inspected, repaired and replaced the machinery and equipment damaged by the floods in about four months.

                      While the restoration work was in progress, the Thai government let Honda import Jazz and Accord models duty-free from Japan to offset lost production.

                      Mr Pitak said 6,000 cars were imported, two-thirds of them Jazz models.

                      "We've stopped importing the Jazz but will continue to bring in the Accord until the Thai plants have restarted their production," said Mr Pitak.

                      He declined to predict when Honda will use its full production capacity, saying local car demand is difficult to forecast this year since the first-car tax rebate is due to expire at year-end.

                      Honda has yet to reach full production capacity.

                      Before the floods, the Japanese automaker produced 170,000 to 180,000 cars a year here.

                      "If car demand booms this year, then next year's demand may shrink drastically," said Mr Pitak.



                      Acura flagship headed to NY dubbed RLX, hybrid will incorporate e-AWD

                      Acura has big plans for the New York Auto Show next week, notably with the reveal of the replacement for the aging RL. The new vehicle, which will likely be called the RLX, will still make use of a V6, all-wheel drive powertrain, but will rely on electric motors to spin the rear wheels courtesy of Acura's Sport Hybrid SH-AWD system.

                      Car and Driver reports the system will actually be lighter than the components found on the current RL while still offering torque-vectoring capability. Acura has already gone through the pains of registering the RLX name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, and the move seems to be part of a larger effort to expunge two-letter names from the company's stable.

                      With the RL on the way out the door, the TL is the last of the old guard still hanging around, and word has it that model may be on the short list for execution as well. As Car and Driver points out, Acura is also in the process of registering the TLX name.

                      We have to wonder if the name swapping will do the company any good. From our vantage, it seems like Acura is simply swapping one meaningless moniker for another. Expect to see more details emerge as we get closer to the 2012 New York Auto Show next week, but in the meantime, feel free to peruse the brief press release after the break.

                      New Acura Flagship to Debut at the New York International Auto Show

                      TORRANCE, Calif., Mar. 28, 2012 - Announced today, Acura's new flagship sedan will make its world debut at the New York International Auto Show. Employing an array of new Acura technologies, including the Sport Hybrid SH-AWD® system, the concept vehicle will deliver an entirely new level of performance, sophistication and comfort.

                      Tetsuo Iwamura, president and CEO of American Honda Motor Co., will introduce the concept vehicle at a press conference held on April 4, 2012 at 1:50 PM (EST) in the Acura booth. The press conference will be webcast live on www.acuranews.com . Press materials will be posted at www.acuranews.com immediately following the press conference.
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                      • http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe...ticle2384784/?

                        Honda goes native in North America

                        Honda seems to have awoken from a slumber or emerged from the bunker. Call it what you like, but the once-innovative Japanese car company looks to have found a new seriousness about the design, technology, packaging and overall engineering of its vehicles.

                        It’s about time. In the last half-dozen years, Honda has ceded the fleet-wide fuel economy crown in North America to Hyundai, the fast-rising South Korean car company.

                        In the last decade, Honda abandoned its hybrid advantage to Toyota, too. Remember, the Honda Insight was the first North American hybrid, not the Toyota Prius. But it’s Toyota you and I think about when hybrids enter the discussion.

                        Engine performance? Hyundai and its corporate sibling, Kia, have been aggressively pushing direct injection engines. Ford has branded its EcoBoost direct injection/turbocharged engines, too. Honda? The fuel economy gains in the latest Civic have been all about aerodynamics and tire technology, not powertrain innovation.

                        Design? Well, Honda has never been overwhelmed with plaudits for its designs, but lately we’ve seen some truly awful work here. Take the Acura ZDX. Ugh.

                        Speaking of Acura, Honda all but abandoned its premium brand starting in 2008 with the onset of the big financial crisis and global near-depression. Now Honda is resetting the Acura story with new models, including the ILX compact car and the IDX compact utility – both of which I have just driven at a product preview here in the desert.

                        Both the ILX and IDX look like they are going to at least start to put Acura back in the game, chasing upscale buyers who are also sophisticated. What’s more, the ILX will be sold with three powertrain choices: base 2.0-litre four-banger (150 hp), 2.4-litre four (201 hp) and hybrid. The starting price for a pretty well loaded ILX will be less than $30,000, giving this new Acura a price advantage over rivals such as the Mercedes-Benz C250 and Audi A3.

                        I think the bunker analogy may be the most apt to describe where Honda has been the last few years. But it seems the hunkering down may be at an end.

                        Indeed, the Detroit News is reporting that Honda has appointed more American locals to executive positions in order to reconnect with its biggest market. Honda has promoted North American COO Tetsuo Iwamura to the position of executive vice-president and, as of April 1, he’ll be working in the U.S., not in Honda’s Tokyo headquarters.

                        You may ask why Iwamura was in Tokyo managing North America production, planning and sales. Why wasn’t he making decisions for North America from North America? Good question. I suppose the Tokyo bunker felt safer.

                        “Honda quite literally has become a North American car company headquartered in Tokyo, and that's a horrible combination,” Jim Hall, principal of 2953 Analytics, an auto consultancy, told the paper.

                        “When your headquarters isn't in your most important and biggest-volume market, you become disconnected. [The move] is to reconnect headquarters with their most important market.”

                        As the Detroit News reports, Honda is going to put more emphasis on developing vehicles for North America, in North America. According to Iwamura, the best way to boost sales in the U.S. is to have U.S. engineers make product decisions for the local market.

                        Seems simple enough. Maybe it wasn’t quite as obvious from inside the bunker, though.

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                        • http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_789194.html

                          Local Honda dealership to sell 'green' gas-burning Civic

                          Washington Honda plans to become the first Honda dealership in Western Pennsylvania to sell Civic sedans that run on compressed natural gas.

                          "With Washington County being a hub for Marcellus shale gas, we see this as an opportunity," said Gary Flannery, general manager of the South Strabane dealership, part of the Washington Auto Mall.

                          Flannery plans to market the Civic Natural Gas as a fleet vehicle for government agencies, utilities and other businesses looking to save money and switch to a cleaner-burning fuel.

                          Compressed natural gas, or CNG, has been selling for about $1.85 per gallon equivalent, versus an average price of $3.92 this week for gasoline in Western Pennsylvania.

                          Two technicians from Washington Honda will be trained next month to work on the car, and two sales people will be briefed on its features, he said.

                          Since it debuted in 1989, Honda's natural gas-powered Civic has been the only passenger car in the nation made to run on the fuel. Gasoline-powered vehicles can be converted to run on natural gas.

                          Formerly known as the Civic GX, the car was redesigned for 2012 and renamed the Civic Natural Gas because that's what customers called it anyway, Honda spokesman Chuck Schifsky said. It costs $26,155, compared with $20,505 for a regular Civic, and Honda is on track to double sales this year to 2,000 vehicles as interest in using natural gas as a transportation fuel grows, he said.

                          About 200 dealerships in 35 states sell the car, of the 1,035 Honda dealers nationwide. A Dubois area dealer is the closest to Pittsburgh, of the six Pennsylvania dealers.

                          Washington Honda isn't an approved dealer yet, but it is going through the necessary process, Schifsky said. Flannery said he plans to have two Civic Natural Gas cars on his lot by late May or early June that can be taken to potential customers for test drives.

                          Fuel performance compared to a regular Civic is virtually identical, with the natural gas model getting 38 miles to a gallon equivalent on highways and the standard Civic, 39 miles, he said. Most fleet orders could be filled in six to 12 weeks, Flannery said.

                          Businesses that run natural gas trucks or cars often install filling stations for their fleets. But local consumers considering a CNG car have few choices.

                          Stations run by Giant Eagle Inc. in Crafton and EQT Corp. in the Strip District are the only ones open to the public.

                          Waste Management Inc. and partner PetroCard plan to open one of their Clean N' Green brand stations for public use in a week or so in Chartiers, Washington County, said Jennie Hanson, director of marketing for PetroCard. The Kent, Wash.-based company operates the stations at Waste Management sites, in this case near the company's Arden Landfill. The station will sell gas from Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania.

                          Flannery would like to take the Civics to schools. With natural gas exploration an established industry in the region, "This is definitely going to be part of their future," he said.



                          Study Reveals Most Popular Cars Of Each Major Political Party

                          Marketing research company Strategic Vision recently completed a study that sought to identify what new vehicles found the most favor with Democrats and Republicans. After 38,000 responses the study revealed some rather interesting results.

                          The most popular vehicle of those who self identified as members of Republican Party was the not so conservative Ford Mustang Convertible, followed by the Audi A8, Mercedes GL, Ford Expedition and Ford F-150. In fact it seems convertibles are a big hit with members of the Grand Old Party, who were responsible for 69% of convertible sales recorded in the study.

                          Democratic results were a little more predictable with the Honda Civic Hybrid topping the list, closely followed by the Volvo C30, Nissan Leaf, Acura TSX Wagon, and Ford Fiesta Sedan. Perhaps even more predictably, according to Alexander Edwards who is the president of Strategic Vision, the majority of Civic Hybrid Owners who responded lived in San Francisco and NYC.

                          As the New York Times points out, the firm weighted certain responses which are likely responsible for the appearance of oddball cars like the TSX wagon and the Audi A8 on the two lists.

                          Sure, a study that reveals Democrats drive hybrids and Volvos while Republicans prefer trucks and luxury cars might not be unbelievably ground breaking, but the findings are certainly backed up by significant representitives of the two parties. Before President Obama was told he could no longer drive by the Secret Service, a Ford Escape Hybrid sat in the garage next to his Chrysler 300. Mitt Romney has also revealed he splits his driving time between a Chevy truck and a Mustang—which we now have to assume is a convertible.

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                          • Honda: Terii


                            On April 1, Honda introduced TERII (Theft Evasion Response Intelligent Interface), a new security system available on all 2013 models. It is much more than a simple alarm or alert device. Instead, TERII appeals to the logic inside each thief, attempting to reason with them to convince them they shouldn't rob the car.


                            Honda to export CR-Vs through Jaxport
                            Japanese automaker chooses Jacksonville to export its American-made vehicles


                            JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

                            Importing cars from Japanese manufacturers has long been a part of the Jacksonville Port Authority's business, but Honda is now exporting thousands of new 2012 CR-Vs manufactured in its East Liberty, Ohio, through Jacksonville.

                            Honda says JaxPort is the ideal departure port for its vehicles headed to the Middle East, Africa and Puerto Rico.

                            After a market study and competitive process, American Honda Motor Co. Inc. selected JaxPort and its automotive servicing companies, AMPORTS and WWL, to handle a major part of its growing export volume.

                            Honda's export sales from the United States are up significantly this year, with projections for robust growth in sales to continue.

                            “We are grateful for the growing commitment from Honda,” said Steve Rand, AMPORTS president and CEO. “Trusting us with this new model of CR-Vs sends a clear message about the high quality of the work done here at the port in Jacksonville.”

                            WWL handles exports of the Odyssey, Crosstour and Pilot models through Jacksonville, while AMPORTS services the 2- and 4-door Accords, as well as the new CR-V business.

                            “Honda’s decision to increase their exports through JaxPort is an important move,” said Roy Schleicher, executive vice president of the JaxPort.

                            While the number of employees at the port involved in exporting Hondas varies with sales, it currently provides work to 200 full and part-time people.

                            While that may be a small part of the 65,000 workers estimated to be generated by JaxPort activity, port officials say it helps establish Jacksonville as the largest vehicle export facility in the nation and the second busiest vehicle-handling port.

                            "It cements our reputation as a player in the field of cargo," JaxPort spokeswoman Nancy Rubin said.

                            Other local businesses taking part in the expansion of JaxPort's export business include Hoegh Autoliners, Trailer Bridge, Crowley Maritime, ACE Trucking and CSX.



                            New TOV desktop wallpaper calendars pay tribute to Soichiro Honda

                            As a moving reminder of "The Power of Dreams," Neal has put together this month's wallpaper series as a fitting tribute to Soichiro Honda. Mr. Honda lived his life to the fullest, striving toward his dreams with creativity and a burning passion for innovation and success. While some have recently come to decry these qualities, we here at The Temple of VTEC are proud to recognize Honda's Founder as a genuine "Boy Racer." Enjoy!

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                            • http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012...bama-made.html

                              U.S. sales rise for Alabama-made Hyundais and Hondas

                              Hyundai and Honda today reported rising U.S. sales during March for their Alabama-built models.

                              Honda said it sold 11,193 Odyssey minivans last month, a 5.7 percent improvement from the same month last year. So far this year, Odyssey sales are up 5 percent over 2011.

                              The Honda Pilot also is assembled in Lincoln, and sales of that SUV totaled 10,097 in March, up 5 percent from the year-ago period. In year-to-date sales, the Pilot is showing a 3 percent improvement over last year.

                              And the Ridgeline pickup, after several months of big year-over-year sales gains, turned in a flat sales performance in March. Sales of the pickup totaled 1,215, up less than 1 percent compared to March 2011. For the year, however, Ridgeline sales are up 29 percent over 2011.

                              Overall, Honda sold 126,999 vehicles last month, falling 5 percent from a year ago.

                              For Hyundai, which builds cars in Montgomery, March U.S. sales rose for both local models.

                              The Korean automaker sold 23,281 Sonata sedans last month, a 1.7 percent improvement from a year ago. Meanwhile, sales of the Elantra compact totaled 19,681, up 2 percent.

                              So far this year, Sonata sales are up 6.4 percent and Elantra sales have risen 8 percent, compared to the same time period in 2011.

                              Across its model lines, Hyundai sold 69,728 vehicles in March, up 13 percent from a year ago and an all-time monthly sales record for the company. The Sonata and the Elantra are its top-selling models in the U.S.

                              Earlier today, Mercedes-Benz said U.S. sales soared in March for the M-Class SUV, the flagship vehicles of its Alabama factory in Vance.



                              Honda Breaks Ground on New Mexican Plant

                              Just the Facts:
                              •Honda will build the next-generation Fit subcompact at a new factory in Celaya, Mexico.
                              •It is the Japanese automaker's eighth auto plant in North America.
                              •The Celaya plant will open in spring 2014.

                              CELAYA, Mexico — Honda de Mexico broke ground last week at a new $800-million plant that will begin building the next-generation Honda Fit subcompact in spring 2014. Cars that roll off the new assembly line will be sold in Mexico, the U.S., Canada and other markets.

                              The Celaya factory, located about 200 miles east of an existing Honda facility near Guadalajara, is the Japanese automaker's eighth auto plant in North America. When it comes onstream, it will boost Honda's annual production capacity by 200,000 units to 1.9 million.

                              Honda executives at the ground-breaking ceremony this week also said there is room to double the plant's capacity to 400,000 units if demand warrants.

                              Honda is joining a virtual stampede of automobile manufacturers, many of them from Japan, in investing hundreds of millions of dollars in Mexico.

                              Nissan in January said it would spend $2 billion to build a new assembly plant near its existing facility in Aguascalientes — the automaker's third plant in Mexico.

                              Last October, Mazda broke ground on a $500-million plant in Salamanca that will build four-cylinder engines and assemble the next-generation Mazda 2 and Mazda 3, beginning in 2013.

                              Inside Line says: It doesn't get the media attention that other, larger countries such as China command — but Mexico is drawing serious investment from major multinational automakers.



                              American Honda Reports March Sales As 2012 CR-V Sets All-Time Monthly Record

                              04/03/2012 - TORRANCE, Calif.

                              American Honda Motor Co., Inc., today reported March 2012 monthly new-vehicle sales of 126,999, a decrease of 8.4 percent over March 2011, based on the daily selling rate*. The Honda Division posted March 2012 sales of 115,833, a decrease of 7.7 percent year-over-year. Honda's year-over-year decline is in reference to an exceptionally strong sales month in March 2011.

                              The all-new 2012 Honda CR-V continued its record-setting sales pace, up 35.3 percent from last year and posting an all-time monthly sales record of 30,868 sales compared to last year's total of 21,998 units.

                              “We knew we had a home run with the all-new CR-V," said John Mendel, American Honda executive vice president of sales. "And to launch it right as our supply chain is refilling means that we are competing in earnest in a growing market. The CR-V has historically been a sales leader in its segment, and the success of this all-new vehicle tells us that we've again hit a real sweet spot for consumers.”

                              The Acura Division's March sales totaled 11,166, down 14.6 percent compared to March 2011. The TSX model registered a double-digit sales increase, up 15.1 percent from the same period last year to 3,355 units. Sales of the TL sales reached 2,923, a year-over-year decrease of 29.4 percent.

                              *The daily selling rate (DSR) is calculated with 28 days for March 2012 and 27 days for March 2011. Year-to-date, the DSR is calculated with 77 days for 2012 and 75 days for 2011. All percentages reflect DSR.

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                              • http://www.thestar.com/wheels/articl...of-natural-gas

                                Fracking takes the green out of natural gas

                                Back in January, I argued the Green Car Journal was wrong to name the Honda Civic Natural Gas its “green car of the year.” In fact, because natural gas is increasingly extracted through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, no car powered by it deserves such an award.

                                Afterward, three things happened:

                                First, I got an earful from readers. Here’s a small sample:

                                “This article is irresponsible, to say the least.”

                                “I’m sorry Peter but your concern about fracking hasn’t a fracking thing to do with green technologies.”

                                “Next time, write about the car. If you want to rage about fracking, do it somewhere else.”

                                Second, increasing numbers of carmakers praised natural gas as a green, cheap alternative to gasoline and electricity and announced plans for additional models powered by the fuel.

                                Third, the State of Pennsylvania approved a new law on fracking, which pumps huge quantities of sand, water and a chemical cocktail underground at high pressure to crack open porous rock formations and access tiny pockets of gas.

                                The new regulations seem designed to ensure the gas deposits — described as “unconventional” — are exploited as quickly and profitably as possible, despite mounting concern about fracking’s environmental and health impacts.

                                • Any doctor trying to treat a patient possibly exposed to toxic fracking fluids must ask a government agency what substances might be involved. But if the well owner has declared its chemical recipe a “trade secret,” the agency will disclose the information only if the doctor agrees to keep it confidential, even from other doctors and, likely, the patient.

                                • Wells can be drilled just 90 metres from streams, springs and existing buildings. The extracting companies, including the likes of giants ExxonMobil and Haliburton, can over-ride even those small restrictions.

                                • Landowners who oppose drilling on their property (many own just the surface rights) have only 15 days to file objections, which can be ignored.

                                • Municipal governments can’t stop fracking, pipelines or compressor stations within their boundaries, nor impose tougher regulations than the state law. They may impose fees on each well, but the token amounts allowed — up to $60,000 (U.S.) in the first year and decreasing annually — won’t begin to cover impacts such as truck damage to roads and bridges.

                                “Oil and gas company executives must have been popping champagne bottles,” observed state legislator Eddie Pashinski.

                                Why worry about Pennsylvania; or that regulations in Wyoming and Texas also keep fracking fluids confidential; or that the Safe Drinking Water Act blocks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fracking?

                                Much of Canada, including Ontario, has vast unconventional gas deposits and, although two provinces have banned or delayed fracking and the federal environment is reviewing it, it appears to be on a fast-track.

                                The “streamlining” of environmental assessments proposed in the recent federal budget is the latest sign that Ottawa — busily removing roadblocks to Alberta’s oil sands and pipelines — might take a similar approach to unconventional gas.

                                As I’ve noted, many readers disapproved of me writing about fracking in a car column. They also argued natural gas burns much cleaner than gasoline or diesel, and so should be considered green.

                                But to assess any vehicle, you must measure more than what flows from its tailpipe. The source of any fuel might have as much environmental impact as consuming it.

                                Fracking chemicals, and the gas itself, have contaminated drinking water supplies. The more it’s done, the greater the threat. As well, some of the substances can cause cancer.

                                Fracking is so bizarre that a proposal to make it less damaging involves pumping liquid propane underground.

                                Cars are only as “green” as every element of them, and fracking amounts to an expanding black mark against natural gas, even as its popularity grows.



                                Japanese Auto Sales: Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima Battle In March; Honda CR-V Sales Boom

                                Toyota and Nissan posted strong March 2012 sales, but Honda wasn’t so lucky. Toyota sold 183,142 cars, trucks, and SUVs in March 2012, a 17.7-percent year-over-year increase. March was the brand’s best-selling month since the Cash-for-Clunkers program back in 2009. Nissan also had a best-selling month in March; its 126,132 vehicles sold represented the automaker’s best sales month in its history, and an increase of 14.8 percent versus the same month last year. Honda, on the other hand, struggled to sell 115,833 vehicles, posting a 4.3 percent decrease year-over-year.

                                All three of the Japanese Three’s luxury marquees saw sales drops in March of 2011. Infiniti was the overall worst performer last month, with its 10,185 in sales representing a 9.8-percent drop year-over-year. Acura didn’t perform much better; it only sold 11,166 vehicles in March, down from 12,611 units last March. Though far better off than its rivals, Lexus didn’t have the best March, with its 20,140 in sales representing a 2.6-percent decrease.
                                Honda’s hot spots:

                                Acura TSX: Acura’s second-best-seller last month behind the MDX, the TSX was the only Acura model to increase in sales. Acura sold 3355 TSX sedans last month, a 19.4-percent increase year-over-year.

                                Honda CR-V: A total of 30,868 CR-Vs left dealer lots last month, a 40.3 percent increase year-over-year. Honda has sold 74,587 of the Ohio-build CR-V so far this year. Last year at this point, it had sold 57,433 CR-Vs.
                                Honda’s not-so-hot spots:

                                Acura RL and ZDX: We had to ask ourselves if Acura even still made the RL sedan when we saw the automaker only sold 38 RLs last month. Yes, even the Acura ZDX outsold the RL, though the ZDX’s sales numbers were hardly encouraging. Acura sold 88 ZDXs last month. Acura has sold 198 ZDXs during the first three months of 2012.

                                Honda Accord: Previously a given for the number two midsize sedan sales spot, the Honda Accord was good for 26,771 units last month, putting it behind the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima, and Ford Fusion in midsize sedan sales.

                                Honda Civic: Sales of Honda’s volume car were down 9.7 percent last month to 28,199. Though representing a year-over-year sales drop, overall Civic coupe and sedan sales for the year are up 18.8 percent versus the same period last year.
                                Nissan’s hot spots:

                                Nissan Altima: Nissan sold an astonishing 41,050 Altimas during March—just a handful less than the segment powerhouse Toyota Camry. The icing on the Altima’s cake is that Nissan has just unveiled the 2013 Altima, which will likely help Nissan sustain the Altima’s growth throughout the year.

                                Nissan Leaf: Though sales of the all-electric Nissan Leaf are hardly through the roof, sales increased substantially last month versus the same period last year. Nissan sold 579 Leafs last month.

                                Nissan Rogue: Nissan’s second best-seller in March was its Rogue cute-ute. Nissan sold 16,972 Rogues last month, making it the best month of Rogue sales in the model’s history. Rogue sales were unsurprisingly on the uptick last month, representing a 19.7-percent year-over-year increase.
                                Nissan’s not-so-hot spots:

                                Infiniti G Coupe: Infiniti managed to sell just 1299 G Coupes last month, a 31.3-percent drop.

                                Nissan Cube: The quirky Nissan Cube can’t catch a break. Only 929 Cubes found homes last month, a 69.4 percent drop over the same period last year.
                                Toyota’s hot spots:

                                Toyota Avalon: With an all-new model slated to debut in just a few days at the New York auto show, it’s somewhat surprising to see sales of the Toyota Avalon up 25.3 percent year-over-year. Toyota sold 3327 of the large front-drive sedan last month.

                                Toyota Camry: Surprise, surprise, the 2012 Camry was Toyota’s overall best-seller for March by a wide margin. In fact, the 42,567 Camrys and Camry Hybrids sold gave Toyota’s bread-and-butter its best March ever.

                                Lexus GS: The all-new 2013 Lexus GS was perhaps the only bright spot for Toyota’s luxury brand last month. The 2013 GS is effortlessly outselling the outgoing model. Lexus sold 2558 GS sedans last month.

                                Scion iQ: The diminutive three-cylinder city car gets an honorable mention this past month for outselling the larger Scion xD. Scion managed to move 1285 iQs last month, putting it on track to potentially outsell the xD for the year.
                                Lexus’ not-so-hot spots:

                                Lexus ES: Lexus sold 3141 ES sedans last month, still making it the brand’s second best-seller overall despite a 15.8-percent drop. With the debut of a new model just around the corner, sales will likely pick up later this year.

                                Lexus RX: Sales of the luxury crossover king were down by 17.9 percent last month. Though still Lexus’ overall best seller, only 7057 RXs were sold in the month of March. As is the case with the ES, Lexus probably isn’t fretting much; an updated model is on its way.

                                Last edited by tokyodream; 05-04-12, 05:19.
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