Archive for September, 2007

Ford Mondeo got top Safety Rating

September 27, 2007

Yesterday, the Euro NCAP safety testing announced the new Ford Mondeo achieved a perfect five-star rating for adult occupant protection. The record made by the Mondeo is one of the Top Ten in the respected independent crash testing assessment.

Mondeo like Ford’s Focus, Galaxy and S-max now belongs to Euro NCAP top 10 list that reinforces Ford’s Europe’s position as the automaker having the most number of vehicle in the top 10 for adult occupant protection.

For a vehicle to win a five star rating in the crash test it must garner an over –all 35 points and the Mondeo by no doubt achieved it. On the other hand, for the child occupant protection crash test, the Mondeo achieved a very good four star rating and garnered two star for pedestrian protection.

“With each new model, our quest is for the ultimate safety performance. This latest Euro NCAP 5-star rating for the new Mondeo is a further validation of our holistic approach to engineering safety into Ford vehicles, and the strength of our Ford Intelligent Protection System,” said Gisbert Gaeb, Manager, Vehicle Safety, Ford of Europe.

“It demonstrates emphatically that the work we devote to optimising the safety of Ford vehicles really pays off where it counts in a family car like Mondeo with significant protection for adults and children alike.”

Ford’s perfect safety rating is brought about by its sustained and holistic engineering method as a response to safety. The Mondeo is built with new technologies that will protect its occupants from collisions.

Ford built the Mondeo with the Intelligent Protection System (IPS) that has the following features:
• Improved driver protection through a horizontally stroking steering column
• Retracting safety pedals
• Optimised airbag deployment
• Enhanced safety belt system with pretensioners for front seat passengers
• Advanced seat design
• Advanced neck injury protection system for front seat passengers
• High-level child protection with ISOFIX
The standard Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) with its Electronic Brakeforce Distribution (EBD) and enhanced Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) system that includes Electronic Brake Assist (EBA), through the Mondeo, Ford also introduced other active technologies to remove worries from its consumers including:
• Optional Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Forward Alert (FA) audio and visual collision warning system and collision mitigation by braking
• Optional Interactive Vehicle Dynamics Control ( IVDC) active suspension system with Continuously Controlled Damping (CCD)
• Automatic Hazard Warning Lights Activation
• Optional Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) and Run Flat tyres
• Highly developed Advanced Front Lighting Systems (AFS)
• Optional Hill Launch Assist (HLA)
• Standard Ford EasyFuel capless refuelling system, which prevents accidentally fuelling the vehicle with the wrong type of fuel.

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Consequences of Bio-Fuels released in Three Reports

September 22, 2007

Charles Drevna, the Executive Vice-President at the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association presented yesterday three reports from the International Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), FarmEcon.com, and the Chesapeake Bay Commission. All three reports confirms whether the use of Biofuels as mandated by the Energy Policy act of 2005 has greater environmental advantage considering the impact on food prices from ethanol’s production, distribution and use.

From autochannel.com, the reports excerpts
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
• “In theory there might be enough land available around the globe to feed an ever-increasing world population and produce sufficient biomass feedstock simultaneously, but it is more likely that land-use constraints will limit the amount of new land that can be brought into production leading to a ‘food-versus-fuel’ debate.” (Richard Doornbosch and Ronald Steenblik, Biofuels: Is The Cure Worse Than The Disease?, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development , September 2007)
• “When such impacts as soil acidification, fertilizer use, biodiversity loss and toxicity of agricultural pesticides are taken into account, the overall environmental impacts of ethanol and biodiesel can very easily exceed those of petrol and mineral diesel.”
• “Neither should current biofuel support policies be championed for their supposed capacity to reduce GHGs or improve energy security. The cost of obtaining a unit of CO2-equivalent reduction through subsidies to biofuels is extremely high, well over $500 per tonne of CO2-equivalent avoided for corn-based ethanol in the United States, for example, with other researched countries not performing much better. The score is also not very favourable in terms of displacing fossil fuels. In most cases the use of biofuels roughly doubles the cost of transportation energy for consumers and taxpayers together.”

FarmEcon.com
• “In total, the costs of ethanol paid by taxpayers, fuel purchasers and the food system are about $31 billion in 2007, or about $4.40 per gallon of ethanol produced. Corrected for the energy content of ethanol relative to gasoline, this is equivalent to a wholesale gasoline price of $6.67 per gallon. Ethanol is not a cheap source of energy, it is about 3 times as expensive as gasoline.” (Dr. Thomas Elam, Fuel Ethanol Subsidies: An Economic Perspective, FarmEcon.com, September 19, 2007)
• “The ethanol subsidy program is now increasing the cost of food production though side effects on major crop prices and plantings. The cost increases are already starting to show up in the prices of meat, poultry, dairy, bread, cereals and many other products made from grains and soybeans.”
• “[N]early all of the world’s current grain supply would be needed to fuel the U.S. gasoline powered vehicle fleet, leaving almost nothing for world food needs. Put another way, each 1% of the U.S. gasoline supply that is replaced by ethanol uses almost 1% of our current global grain production. Clearly, the global demand for food places a severe limit on the feasibility of using grain supplies for producing a large percentage of U.S. motor fuels.”

Chesapeake Bay Commission
• “Handled incorrectly, biofuels could lead to shifts in crop patterns and acreages that create an uncertain future for farmers and foresters and seriously worsen the overload of nutrients to our rivers and the Bay.” (Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Biofuels And the Bay: Getting It Right To Benefit Farms, Forests and the Chesapeake, September 2007, p.3)
• “Brazil is often cited as a promising example of biofuel production and consumption. Ethanol, produced from the country’s vast acres of sugar cane, now comprises half of Brazil’s transportation fuel, and 77 percent of new cars in Brazil can run entirely on ethanol. However, Brazil may also serve as an example of how rapid growth of biofuels can lead to unintended environmental consequences. The demand for sugar cane-based biofuel may accelerate the conversion of other agricultural lands and push grazing farther toward rainforests. Given the role of these vast forests in mitigating global climate change and in providing other ecosystem services, this may represent a major drawback to the continued growth of the biofuels industry in tropical regions.”

UAW will fund the Health Care of its Retirees?

September 19, 2007

The negotiations on the contract extension between GM and the UAW are still on-going. However, it is not the only issue on the table now. The Health care of the retirees is another major issue both parties are aiming to solve. The UAW is discussing the health care trust with GM, and seeing how the talks are going, it seems like the burden of the retiree health payments will be transferred from the company to the worker’s union.

Eventually GM will be obliged to create a trust because the company has an unfunded health care obligation of $51 billion to UAW retirees. Like what happened to Caterpillar Inc, some fears that the trust can lead to the retirees to face high health care contributions, less insurance and worse, no insurance at all if the trust failed to finance the plan.

“Given rising health care costs, will the union be left holding the bag in terms of responsibilities for health care funding in the future?” said John Russo, labor professor at the Williamson College of Business Administration at Youngstown State University.

For Paul Secunda, lecturer and assistant professor at the University of Mississippi, also the co-editor of the workplaceprofblog, the union will have no choice but to agree to the trust.

The trusts are named VEBAs, it stands for “voluntary employees’ beneficiary association”. Under this trust, the company transfers the fund to the union which will be the one to finance the health care costs of the retirees.

According to Mark Oline, a managing director at Fitch Ratings, he is following the auto industry, If GM put $30- to $35 billion in a trust, “that would leave them with an uncomfortable level of liquidity given their restructuring program and the uncertainties of auto sales in the near term,”.

If the Detroit Three agree to the trusts, they could create a fund as large as $60 billion, a size equivalent to the 20th-largest pension fund in the United States, according to corporate governance expert Stephen Davis, of Davis Global Advisors Inc. in Madison, Conn.

Basic Car Do’s and Don’ts

September 14, 2007

An ounce of prevention is a lot better than a pound of cure. Knowing the basic Do’s and don’ts in taking care of your beloved auto, you can save your cash from running down the cash vault of repair shops.

For the basics of maintaining the refrigerant level and cleaning the evaporator, from auto.indiamart.com, here are the Do’s and Don’ts.

Do
Clean condenser during normal service of the car Dirty and clogged condenser results in A/C tripping and less cooling.
Don’t
Do not use A/C with fresh mode open. This will lead to mixing of outside air with cool air inside thereby reducing cooling effect.

Do
Maintain proper refrigerant level. Less refrigerant results in less cooling. Excessive refrigerant results in less cooling.
Don’t
Do not operate with A/C on. This will result in mixing of hot air with cool air.

Do
Add at least 20 CC of DENSO-6 oil to the compressor during refrigerant charging. Adequate quality of compressor oil prevents poor pumping and premature wearing of internal components.
Don’t
Do not operate A/C without refrigerant in the system. This will result in premature failure of compressor.

Do
Clean evaporator properly to remove dust and foreign particles. Clogged evaporator results in less air flow and reduced cooling.
Don’t
Do not leak check the A/C system with more than 20KG/CM2 pressure. Higher pressure may result in damage to A/C components.

Do
Adjust fresh air and heater cable properly to close damper’s firmly. Unadjusted cable will result in mixing of hot air with cool air.
Don’t
Do not leave A/C joints open. Moisture tends to enter the A/C system if the joints remain for a long time.

Do
Refer to the owner’s manual on proper usage of A/C controls. Proper usage of A/C control will give optimum cooling.
Don’t
Do not charge refrigerant in the A/C system without carrying out proper vacuum. Improper or no vacuuming of the A/C system results in less cooling conditions.

Do
Adjust proper engine RPM. Less rpm will result in stalling of engine and less cooling.

Do
Check coolant level and ensure proper engine tuning. This will prevent overheating of the engine.

Do
Check position of accelerator cut off switch in 1000cc cars. Improper position of accelerator cut off switch will result in tripping.

Do
Check proper belt tension. Loose belt will slip and overtight belt will result in noise and premature failure of magnetic clutch of the compressor.

Top Ten Luxury Vehicles Women Love

September 12, 2007

Modern women do not just stay at home to nurse their hubbies and kids. Gender discrimination is no longer widespread, for equal rights for man and woman have now more or less, been won. With empowerment, women can now also be literally in the driver seat.

So we may ask, what cars are best for women to drive? Well here’s a list from ForbesAutos.com whiranked the top ten luxury vehicles driven by women.

1. BMW Z4
Primary driver: 61.18% female

Total respondents: 12,284With its six-cylinder engine, the BMW Z4 is a stellar and civil performer at the same time. The bold styling tempers chiseled aggressive shapes with softer forms.

2. Audi A3
Primary driver: 53.41% female

Total respondents: 8,040The Audi A3 combines practicality and luxury with its four doors and rear hatch combined with a sophisticated interior. It is turbocharged with a V6 engine under its beautiful hood.

3. Volvo S60
Primary driver: 52.72% female
Total respondents: 25,753

The midsized Volvo S60 is an icon of a sport sedan with intrinsic safety features. The S60 R has a 300-hp engine, taut suspension and spiced-up styling.

4. Volvo V70 and C70
Primary driver: 50.61% female
Total respondents: 22,681

The V70 is exceedingly sleek, safe and a little sporty. It has been completely redesigned for 2008. The recently released C70 is a coupe and convertible in one with its ingenious folding hardtop.

5. Lincoln Zephyr/MKZ
Primary driver: 50.32% female
Total respondents: 33,114

The 2007 version of the newest Lincoln compact sedan has an interior with a modern and retro combo driving young buyers to the vehicle. Its engine is added with an AWD to make it more powerful.

6. Volvo S40Primary driver: 50.27% female
Total respondents: 24,566

The small Volvo S40 sedan assures a safe ride with its standard stability and traction control plus several air bags. The Volvo S40 is a figure of a youthful fun.

7. Audi A6
Primary driver: 50.16% female
Total respondents: 16,216

Audi’s midsize A6 comes as a sedan or wagon with a choice of V6 or V8 engines, several transmissions and front- or all-wheel drive.

8. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
Primary driver: 50.071% female
Total respondents: 18,757

Smaller and sportier than the typical Range Rover, this SUV has lots of curb appeal and isn’t as weighty to drive as most midsize SUVs. The standard HSE version has a 300-hp V8; the supercharged version produces 390 hp.

9. Cadillac SRX
Primary driver: 50.070% female
Total respondents: 22,043

Not nearly as conspicuous as the behemoth Cadillac Escalade, the midsize SRX offers robust performance, sporty handling and room for six. The 2007 SRX gets a classier, higher-quality interior, which should boost its appeal among women, whom experts say focus on the details.

10. Lexus IS
Primary driver: 50.069% female
Total respondents: 54,267
Sleek exterior styling and a wide array of features, with its Pre-Collision safety system, are attributes of Lexus’ smallest sedan that women like. The IS 250 is powered by a 204-hp 2.5-liter V6 and the IS 350, a 300-hp 3.6-liter V6 and an optional AWD.

The Most Affordable Sedan: 2008 Nissan Sentra

September 12, 2007

Once tagged as the world’s most affordable sedan, the new generation 2008 Nissan Sentra will once again prove its affordability with corresponding quality performance. Embracing Nissan’s distinct technology in car engineering and architecture, the 2008 Nissan Sentra is all new, larger and more sophisticated. The exteriors are updated with sheetmetal, newly enhanced interior design and upgraded drivetrains. The wheelbase is stretched to 5.9 inches longer than its predecessor, and exterior dimensions of 2.3 inches longer, 3.2 inches wider, and 4.0 inches taller, the 2008 Nissan Sentra definitely houses a new and improved technology for us.

The makeover for the 2008 Nissan Sentra showcases the following specs:

Engine

2.5L displacement double overhead cam (DOHC)
inline 4 cylinder configuration gas engine
16 valves variable valve timing
165 hp @ 6000 rpm 175 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
regular unleaded fuel

DriveTrain

4-speed automatic transmission front wheel drive
Suspension
front independent suspension front and rear stabilizer bar
Instrumentation
tachometer clock
low fuel level warning

Exterior FeaturesT

Tires and Rims – alloy rims 15 in. rims
P195/60R15 tires all season tires
spacesaver spare tire steel spare wheel
variable intermittent wipers rear defogger
Exterior Features
rear spoiler

Safety Features and Ratings

ventilated front disc / solid rear disc brakes 4-wheel ABS
front side-mounted airbags front seatbelt pretensioners
rear door child safety locks child seat anchors
emergency interior trunk release rear center 3-point belt
2 front headrests remote anti-theft alarm system
engine immobilizer front fog lights

Comfort and Convenience Features

Front Seats

5 person total seating capacity bucket front seats
premium cloth upholstery

Rear Seats

bench rear seat split-folding
rear heating ducts

Power Features

remote power door locks power windows
1 one-touch power windows power mirrors

Convenience

cruise control power steering
tilt-adjustable steering wheel front and rear cupholders
remote trunk release front door pockets
front and rear 12v power outlet(s) front console with storage
overhead console with storage

Comfort

air conditioning front reading lights
dual vanity mirrors leather-wrapped steering wheel
trunk light

In Car Entertainment

AM/FM in-dash single CD player stereo 180 watts stereo output 7 total speakers mast antenna.

2009 Jaguar XF: Sports Car and Sedan in One

September 3, 2007

Ford’s soon to be disposed luxury brand, the Jaguar still continues to create cars with style and performance. The new 2009 Jaguar XF is an icon of combined sports car presentation and sophisticated sedan. Scheduled to debut at the 2007 Frankfurt International Motor Show this September, this Jaguar will showcase what makes it different from any other Jaguar.

“As one of the most visually striking technically sophisticated and driver-oriented sedan cars that Jaguar has ever produced, the XF clearly demonstrates the forward-looking focus that now defines the Jaguar brand,” said XF Senior Design Manager, Wayne Burgess.

“With its dramatic styling, powerful flowing lines and a distinctive front, the new XF looks like no other Jaguar. Yet it defines the new design language the company will be adopting for all future models.” he added.

Here are the 2009 Jaguar XF Highlights, thanks to autochannel.com:

  • The XF is a four-door Jaguar that combines the style and performance of a sports car with the refinement, space and sophistication of a luxury sedan.
  • The exterior styling of the XF is the first result of Jaguar’s new design language in a sedan. With interior design that is the equal of the exterior in terms of crafted execution and visual excitement, the XF offers a truly contemporary, luxury environment.
  • The coupe-like lines of the XF belie the amount of space inside: there is room for five adults in comfort, generous interior stowage and a trunk capacity of 17.6 cu. ft. (500 liters), plus the opportunity to fold down the rear seats and add a further 14.8 cu. ft. (420 liters).
  • Jaguar craftsmanship adopts a sharp new edge on the XF. Sophisticated instrumentation, a touch-screen, modern materials and graphics complement new ‘surprise and delight’ features. Upon entry to the XF, the start button pulses, like a heartbeat. Start the engine and the JaguarDrive Selector(TM) rises into the palm of the hand, while rotating vents turn from their flush, ‘parked’ position to their functional open position.
  • Improved torsional stiffness delivers refinement and dynamic performance-underpinning the driver-focused yet remarkably comfortable driving experience.
  • The XF will be available from launch in the U.S. with two different engines – 4.2-liter naturally-aspirated V8 and 4.2-liter supercharged V8 – all featuring Jaguar’s proven six-speed automatic transmission with steering-wheel-mounted paddles for manual gear selection (Jaguar Sequential Shift(TM)).
  • Key driver aids on the XF include Electronic Brake Assist, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Anti-lock Braking System, Dynamic Stability Control, Cornering Brake Control and Engine Drag Torque Control. And, for the first time in a Jaguar, Understeer Control Logic which decelerates the car and helps to restore grip to the front wheels when required.
  • Three trim levels will be offered in the U.S. market – Luxury, Premium Luxury and  Supercharged levels.
  • The first cars will be delivered to U.S. customers in March 2008.
  • Pricing for the North American market will be announced in November 2007.