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More Recalls

Kia announced another recall for SUVs and Vans; an electrical problem: Moisture could get inside ABS control computer causing a short, and possible fire. 229,000 Sedona minivans, 2006-2010; Sorento SUVs, 2007-2009. The recall will start April 10, owners will be notified. They will install a relay in the main electrical junction. In the meantime, Kia advises owner to park the vehicle outside, not in a garage or next to another vehicle.

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U.S. Dealership Count Drops

U.S. Dealership count drops for the first time in six years. According to Urban Science Magazine, the number of U.S. new-vehicle dealerships fell from 18,294 in 2018 to 18,195 making it the first decline since 2013. According to the annual Automotive Franchise Activity Report, the average number of new-vehicle sales per dealership also fell to 940 in 2019, a decrease of 8 units from 2018, reports Urban Science. California had the biggest decrease in dealerships, down 28 to 1,478, followed by Illinois with nine fewer dealerships. Ohio and Missouri, lost 7 each. Texas experienced the most growth with 11 new dealerships; North Caroline, 4 and Pennsylvania and Tennessee, 3 each.

Adios Manual Tranny

Always a kick reading Consumer Guide’s Tom Appel who recently blogged another automotive reality of 2020: The ‘stick’ car or manual transmission ride is fading into the sunset. Sorry for those who enjoy driving stick, and sorry for the younger generation who may never know the thrill.

According to Green Car Reports, 2019 was the first year electric vehicles outsold cars with manual transmissions. J.D. Power noted that electric cars accounted for 1.6 percent of the U.S. market vehicle sales; manual transmission cars/trucks, a mere 1.1 percent. To illustrate how quickly they are falling in sales, in 2018 only 1.5 percent of all vehicles sold in the U.S. were with a manual transmission. A one year plunge from around 275,000 stick-shift cars to just 190,000; a 30 percent fall in 12 months.

There are currently five vehicles left on the market with a manual trans. As Tom noted, young drivers are unaware of manual transmissions.

(Susan Frissell, Editor)

Kelly Blue Book Best Sedans

Subcompact Sedans: 2020 Hyundai Accent, 2020 Kia Rio, 2020 Toyota Yaris

Compact Sedans: 2020 Honda Civic, 2020 Toyota Corolla; 2020 Toyota Corolla Hybrid

Midsize Sedans: 2020 honda Accord,2020 Honda Accord Hybrid, 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Full-Size Sedans: 2020 Nissan Maxima, 2020 Dodge Charger, 2020 Chevrolet Impala

Luxury Compact Sedans: 2020 Lexus IS, 2020 Acura ILX, 2019 Audi RS 5, 2020 Mercedes-Benz E-Class; 2020 Infiniti Q50, 2020 Lexus GS

Luxury Full Sedan: 2019 Genesis G80,2019 Acura RLX Sport Hybrid, 2019 Acura RLX

Luxury Sports Car Sedan: 2020 Lexus GS, 2019 Audi RS 5, 2019 Audi S5

Sports Car Sedan: 2020 Honda Civic, 2020 Lexus GS, 2020 Subaru WRX

Exotic Sedans: 2019 Rolls-Royce Ghost, 2019 Rolls-Royce Phantom, 2018 Maserati Quattroporte

(Susan Frissell, Editor)

*In late 2019, the top 5 most frequently stolen vehicles of the 2016-18 model years included Dodge Charger HEMI, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Infiniti QX50 4-door, Infiniti QX80, and QX80 4WD, GMC Sierra 1500 crew-cab. Others on the most stolen list were Nissan Maxima, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew-cab, and 4WD model, Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4-door long-wheelbase 4WD, Dodge Charger 4WD, Dodge Durango 4WD, Land Rover Range Rover, Dodge Charger, Nissan Titan crew-cab short bed, Audi A7 4WD.

*GM to layoff 1,500 workers after sale of Thailand plant.

Looking Forward

For those interested in what’s coming down the Pike in Autoland, we’re sharing some news:

*2022-Toyota RAV4 facelift; all new 2022 Sequoia; all-new Tundra (Dec. 2021), on the TNGA-F platform (a.k.a. F1); 2022 Lexus LC-F with the twin turbo V-8 engine; Toyota GR 86 in 2022, Toyota GT 86, 2022; Toyota 86 Sports car with boxer engine, 2022, introduced in 2021, in collaboration with Subaru.

*2024: all-new Toyota Fortuner; all new 2024 Tacoma and 2024 Hilux.

*Nissan launches subscription service: Starting at $699. A new alternate ownership for certain models. Two-tier service in Houston, TX, called “Nissan Switch”, includes all-electric Nissan Leaf Plus, Titan pickup, GT-R Sports car. Nissan Switch has two tiers: $699/month. The “Select Plan” includes Altima, Rogue, Pathfinder, Frontier and for $899/month, the Premium” plan which includes Leaf Plus, Maxima, Murano, Armada, Titan, 370Z coupe. The GT-R sports car will be available to either Select or Premium customers, but includes an additional $100 a day fee, and can only be taken out for a maximum of 7 days.

When signing up for the Subscription service, customers will have to pay a 495 “membership activation fee.” In addition to the first month’s subscription cost for whichever plan they choose. For that they get unlimited vehicle switches (as often as a new vehicle each day), as well as delivery, cleaning, insurance, roadside assistance, and regular maintenance.

All dealers are not on board, as to be expected. Some see the new subscription service as undercutting their business model. Other automakers trialing subscriptions include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Audi,Volvo, Cadillac, Jaguar and even Hertz and Enterprise.

What’s Hot, What’s Not

*In late 2019, the top 5 most frequently stolen vehicles of the 2016-18 model years included Dodge Charger HEMI, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Infiniti QX50 4-door, Infiniti QX80, and QX80 4WD, GMC Sierra 1500 crew-cab. Others on the most stolen list were Nissan Maxima, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew-cab, and 4WD model, Mercedes-Benz S-Class 4-door long-wheelbase 4WD, Dodge Charger 4WD, Dodge Durango 4WD, Land Rover Range Rover, Dodge Charger, Nissan Titan crew-cab.

The top 5 least frequently stolen vehicles of the 2016-18 model years included BMW 3-Series four-door, and 3-series 4WD, Tesla Model S-four-wheel-drive, Tesla Model X four-wheel-drive, Chevy Equinox four-wheel-drive, Buick Encore Four-wheel-drive. The other least stolen included Subaru Legacy with Eyesight, GMC Acadia, Subaru Forester with Eyesight, VW New Beetle, Subaru Outback with Eyesight, Subaru Crosstrek, BMW X5, Chevrolet Traverse, Subaru Crosstrek with Eyesight, Lexus RX 450h 4WD, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Honda Odyssey, Cadillac XT5ab short bed, Audi A7 4WD.

Will GM Revive the Hummer?

Is it true that General Motors Co. may revive the Hummer name to sell a new family of electric pickups and SUVs. Those watching the Super Bowl may want to look for the ad featuring NBA star LeBron James, according to those in the know.

If so, the vehicles will be sold under the GMC nameplate. Reuters reported in October of last year that GM is planning to build a new family of premium electric pickups at its Detroit Hamtramck plant, due late 2021.

The Wall Street Journal also reported GM’s decision to move forward earlier, though GM declined to comment. It’s said that GM is considering selling the battery-powered truck in existing dealerships under the marketing name “Hummer by GMC,” reported Bloomberg

GM also has a large SUV in the works for Hummer. It will be produced soon after the pickup truck if the brand relaunch proves successful, according to Bloomberg.

If the company follows through with that plan, it would address the two biggest problems that doomed Hummer 10 years ago: its gas-guzzling image and its costly network of stand-alone showrooms.r

This writer remembers and loved the Hummer well. Driving the Hummer 1 and 2 was folly, but once the Hummer 3 hit the road, it was just the right “BIG” vehicle I would have chosen. In fact, thoughts have often crossed my mind to find a pre-driven 3. It’s not a lot different than driving the Chevy Tahoe or Escalade extra-large SUV’s.

For those who remember, Hummer was a rugged, off-road brand with roots in the military. Dropped in 2010 after GM’s 2009 bankruptcy that also resulted in the demise of Pontiac, Saturn and Saab,GM eventually shuttered Hummer after a deal to sell the brand to an obscure Chinese machinery maker was blocked by Chinese regulators.

GM acquired the Hummer brand in 1998 and sales of the vehicle peaked in 2006 before declining precipitously at the end of that decade as gasoline prices soared, hurting demand for the 10-miles-per-gallon Hummer H2.

Rumor mill says GM plans to build four electric vehicles at its Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant in Michigan by the end of 2023. (LMC Automotive told Automotive News, November 2019).

Detroit-Hamtramck was one of four U.S. plants slated to close last year as part of a sweeping restructuring plan, but it was spared by the new labor contract with the automaker that UAW members ratified in October. GM agreed to invest $3 billion to use the factory to build electric pickup trucks and vans.

GM’s involvement in Hummer started in the early ’90s, when it contracted with AM General to sell the civilian version of the HMMWV — High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle — or Humvee, which it called the H1. Then in 1999, GM bought the brand outright and launched the H2 and H3, smaller Hummers based on GM’s rear-wheel-drive platforms. Sales in the U.S. peaked at just over 71,000 in 2006.

Production of the rumored Hummer and another EV likely will start in 2021. It will be followed by electric Sierras and Escalades in 2023, LMC Automotive said.

The investment moves the automaker into a part of the EV market that is largely untested and where GM has a higher likelihood of turning a profit, analysts said. Not alone in EV products, GM is trailing behind Ford, Rivian and Tesla.

Electric versions of pickups and SUVs – the heart of the U.S. market – could help Ford and GM generate the significant sales of EVs they will need to meet tougher emission standards and electric vehicle mandates.

It’s been said if General Motors could have one do-over from its bankruptcy a decade ago, it wouldn’t be to bring back the Pontiac brand. Rather, it had to be Hummer.

Surprisingly, GM still makes money off Hummer. “We own the trademarks, rights, etc. for the Hummer brand. It is utilized today for parts, accessories and licensed products,” said spokesman Jim Cain.

After all that, GM says they have no plans to relaunch the brand. Several reporters have broached the subject with a variety of GM executives, who have quickly shrugged off that notion. But they know what they had and what they lost.

Guess we’ll wait and see.

(Richard Truett, Automotive News).


Roamwild Car Crack Vac

Susan Frissell, Editor

We had the chance recently to try out a new offering from Roamwild, maker of all things automotive, as well as gardening tools. The Roamwild Car Crack Vac is a swell little all-in-one tool that comes in handy when trying to keep your ride clean. Small debris pickup, pet hair removal, and retrieval of those items that have fallen into hard-to-reach places are all part of what this handy dandy tool offers.

The first product of its kind, the Car Crack Vac is small and easily stored in your car or trunk. We tried it on the daily driver, and it worked magic. I’m one of those drivers who is forever dropping something between the seats: Bingo, I now have a ‘tool’ to retrieve said items.  Advertised as the “unique tool to help with all accidents that occur inside the car,” the Car Crack Vac easily removes pet hair. Both sides of the tool are covered in velour lint-catching fabric. This is a must-have for this writer as she totes four dogs with her.

Also part of the Crack Vac are the magnetic crack retrieval tool extending 360 degrees and rotating. You can hook, push and flick objects like keys, coins and phones from the tight spots. Then there is the debris brush for tight places: bristles do the job! Ideal for cleaning is the soft brush for dusting off vents, dashboard and other hard-to-reach areas. Great for detailing. The bright LED light is very useful for covering those ‘dark’ places where things hide.

And finally, all buyers will receive a 100 percent SATISFIED guarantee, or your money back! And, you can keep this handy tool in your center console, trunk, back seat side door pockets, cupholder or glove box!

I may have missed a few of the features the Car Crack Vac offers, but you’ll discover them. I love this little tool and plan to purchase a couple for Christmas gifts. Look it up online or find the Roamwild products on Amazon.

All Straus’d Out

Dani Ben-Ari.

These days 21-year old Aurora Straus is not only busy running to classes at Harvard University, where she plans to study English with a minor in mechanical engineering, but continues to put her pedal to the metal as a professional race car driver on weekends competing in the Pirelli GT4 East races in the Blancpain World Challenge behind the wheel of Rennsport-One Team’s BMW M4GT4 with co-driver Connor Bloum. The pair have been partnered together since 2017. However, she did partner with, NASCAR’s Kaz Grala at Daytona to drive 2nd Bimmer World Racing M4 GT4 in January of this year.

Auora’s first experience behind the wheel came when she was just 13, when her father, Ari Straus enrolled her in a “safe driver lesson” at the Monticello Motor Club in the Catskills, NY, where he serves as its CEO.

While her dad’s intention was for her to learn car control skills, Aurora says that after the session with instructor Stevan McAleer, he let her continue to drive around for a few “fast laps,” just for fun, and “It was like a switch was tripped.”

“I will never forget the feeling of the machine under me. I was so small, and I had never experienced so much power. It was the first time I had ever gone into the triple digits,” said later stated in an interview with the Post.

After that, McAleer, 2015 Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge Champion, began to coach her in Go-Kart racing, and soon had her racing in several International Trophy Cup and Skip Barber Cup races. She then went semi-pro in the Battery Tender Mazda MX-5 Cup for two seasons before making her Continental Tire Sportscar Challenge (CTSC) debut at Watkins Glen in July 2016. At the time, the Cold Spring, NY native became the sole teenage girl to compete as a professional sportscar driver in the United States and Canada.

After graduating high school. Straus chose to “Gap Year” before starting Harvard to compete for a full World Challenge season in a BMW, ending the 2018 season, with 4 podiums, including 2 wins, and finishing 2nd overall for the season championship, earning “Rookie of the Year honors.

“Two percent of racing is getting behind the wheel. Ninety-eight percent is raising money with sponsors, testing the car, signing with a team,” she said. “It’s all time-consuming. It’s thousands of hours of work for a race that at any point could go badly. In racing, you don’t have the privilege to try things twice. You have one option and the stakes are extremely high. If you do badly, you’ve wasted tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she told the Harvard Gazette upon beginning the school year.

In the meantime Straus is seeking to help steer other young women towards success through her non-profit “Girls With Drive” Foundation.

“My long-term goal with racing is to use it as a platform for Girls With Drive,” she said. “What sold me on staying in racing was the young girls who came to watch me at the track. I amassed a small following, and they would drive from racetrack to racetrack and I realized I accidentally have an effect on girls. If I didn’t do this, who would be here for these girls?”