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by Jay Traugott
Could there be a drop in US auto sales in the next couple of years, the UK's most reliable car may surprise some, and Ford is ready to challenge the Prius and Volt.
Despite the extremely hot summer many of our readers are now experiencing, the majority of industry news has cooled off for a short time. This is often the case at this time of year, but we expect things to pick up in the coming weeks as we get closer to Paris and other auto shows.
Before that, however, is perhaps the most exclusive and famous classic and exotic car display and auction of the year: Pebble Beach, beginning on August 17th. Here are the latest industry news highlights from this past week.
US Auto Sales to Slow Next Year? US car sales have been doing fantastic over the past couple of years despite the slow economic recovery. However, auto industry analysts have begun to lower their new car sales expectations for 2012 and 2013. The reason? LMC Automotive, formerly a part of J.D. Power and Associates, stated that they lowered their sales forecast from 14.5 to 14.3 million cars because "of a change from the significant economic growth in the first half to a flatter growth in the second half... there is a level of uncertainty among consumers." We'll just have to wait and see how this pans out.
The UK's Most Reliable Car is... In a somewhat surprising announcement, the annual What Car?/Warranty Direct reliability survey has found that the Mazda MX-5 Miata to be the most reliable car in the UK. Composed of more than 50,000 cars, the survey found that the popular two-seat roadster had a failure rate of only 4 percent a year. It also found that 96 percent of MX-5's were problem-free. Combined with an excellent reliability score, owners were found to have an average repair bill of £165. Its reliability score far surpassed other models from all brands regardless of their body style classification.
2014 Chevy Cruze to Have a Major Refresh. Believe it or not, the Chevrolet Cruze was launched back in 2008 to European and other world markets, but it didn't go on sale in the US until 2010. Besides from a few necessary modifications for the US, the Cruze has remained relatively unchanged since its birth. Word now is that the four-year-old car is due for a major refresh for 2014. With competition coming from the likes of the Hyundai Elantra and Ford Focus, the Cruze is clearly showing its age. It'll receive updates inside and out and a diesel variant is also expected for the US.
Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi Figures Released. Ford has just announced that their upcoming C-Max Hybrid and C-Max Energi are about to hit the showrooms in a big way. The Hybrid will officially return 47 mpg across the board - city, highway, and combined - beating the Prius V by seven mpg, according to the EPA. In addition, the plug-in Energi variant, according to Ford, can go up to 85 miles per hours in EV mode, which is "more than 20 mpg higher than the Toyota Prius plug-in." The C-Max Hybrid, for the record, is capable of going 62 mpg when in EV mode.
Mercedes is Working on Car-to-Car Communications. Car-to-car communication research is something several automakers are currently working on, but Mercedes-Benz has now confirmed they're fitting this new technology to test cars. Taking place at their research center in Palo Alto, California, the automaker says they want to continue to identify key requirements needed for the technology to be incorporated into American cars. Since this is new high-tech territory, Mercedes stated they're working with other automakers to create a common list of car-to-car communication standards.