Blazer's Bad Rap
The two-door Chevrolet Blazer from General Motors has the highest driver death rate of any passenger vehicle on U.S. roadways, according to a research group with links to the insurance industry. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety based that conclusion on an extensive study of passenger vehicles from the '99-'02 model years. The study focused on the rate of driver deaths in various types of crashes, including both single- and multiple-vehicle accidents. The overall driver death rate for 199 models studied during the 2000-2003 calendar years was 87 per million registered vehicles annually, the institute said. Weighing in at more than three times the overall rate, the Insurance Institute said the two-door, two-wheel-drive Blazer - a midsize SUV - had an average of 308 driver deaths per million. The Blazer also had the highest rate of driver deaths in rollover accidents at 251 per million. GM has already halted full-scale production of the two-door Blazer, and the vehicle, one of the oldest in the company's lineup, is due to be phased out soon.
More U.S. Toyota Expansion?
Toyota Motor Corp. will likely add two more assembly plants in North America by the end of the decade as part of a strategy to capture a larger share of the world's biggest auto market, the Wall Street Journal said. Toyota, already the world's most profitable automaker and vying to become the biggest, plans to announce the site of its seventh assembly plant in North America by the end of 2005, according to the Journal. The search for an eighth plant will begin soon after, the magazine reported, citing senior company executives. Toyota said it was planning to build more plants, but no concrete decisions had been made, reiterating previous comments. "More plants will be necessary for us to expand our sales," said Tomomi Imai, manager of the automaker's international communications department. "We have a policy of manufacturing where we sell, so we are considering North America," he said. With its North American sales beating projections, Toyota is closing in on General Motors' position as the world's biggest automaker. Toyota has five North American final assembly plants in operation. A sixth is being built in Texas. Toyota has said it will aim to at least match last year's record operating profit of $16 billion in its current business year ending on March 31. Driven by brisk demand, Toyota has nudged up its global sales forecast for the business year by 70,000 units to 7.29 million for the group, which includes mini-vehicle maker Daihatsu Motor Co. and truck maker Hino Motors Ltd.
Small Cars Suck
Of 14 small cars involved in a test of side-impact crash safety, 12 received a rating of "Poor" from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Because of these results, Consumer Reports removed the Ford Focus as its pick as the Best Small Car for 2005. Perfect - now go buy a mini-truck!
Gas Prices Soar, Truck Sales Hurting
Rising U.S. gasoline prices are hurting sales of large SUVs and pickups, according to some industry analysts. This is a trend that could stall a major engine of profits for Detroit's automakers. Large SUVs and fullsize pickups account for close to 80 percent of North American automotive profits for Ford Motor Co. and General Motors, Deutsche Bank analyst Rod Lache said in a research note. "The concern, of course, is that the slowdown in these categories may represent the beginnings of a structural change, perhaps sparked by consumers' concerns about higher oil or gasoline prices," Lache said. The average price U.S. drivers pay for a gallon of regular gasoline barely exceeds $2, according to the AAA Motor Club. The price is expected to shoot to a record high of $2.15 a gallon this spring, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Does anyone else smell a renewed interest in compact trucks, or is it just us?
GM and FoMoCo Sweat Sales
General Motors and Ford Motor Co. reported lower U.S. vehicle sales for February, forcing the companies to cut production as they lost more market share to foreign rivals. GM and Ford, which both started the year with swollen inventories of unsold cars and trucks, were hurt in February by double-digit declines for many of their mid- and fullsize sport-utility vehicles.
Resolutions Turns 30 in 2006
During the next Resolutions, slated for Dec. 30-Jan. 1, Reso' will turn 30 years old. This makes the show the longest-running event in the history of mini-truckin'. It's been long understood that if you miss Reso', you lose your hard-core mini-trucker status. For more information, contact: (909) 590-0785, www.resoshow.com.
* J.D. Power and Associates has agreed to be bought by McGraw-Hill Cos. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
* Electrically operated parking brakes are starting to replace mechanical systems, which have gone basically unchanged since the 1940s.
* Did you know that in Kolin, Czech Republic - Toyota, Peugeot, and Citron vehicles are all built in the same factory?
Drop Zone Arlington, Texas, (817) 261-0387
The Drop Shop New Zealand Mat Addis, international 0274 775622, www.thedropshop.co.nz
www.coolflex.com The best hoses on the planet, with show appeal.
www.eyeride.com If you go through shades like underwear, check these out!
www.ridejudge.com A "hot or not" ranking site for vehicles that pits images head to head.
www.ohiominitrucks.com A Midwestern site devoted to mini-trucks of all kinds.
www.stillen.com This is still a great resource for custom parts that are road-tested and approved.