Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Canada's eco-Auto program backfiring, pickup sales increase

A new program to urge Canadian drivers to downsize to more fuel-efficient vehicles from large gas-guzzling SUVs has had the unwarranted effect of lifting sales of pickup trucks.

The new ecoAUTO Rebate Program offers a rebate ranging from $1,000 to $2,000 for people who pick up certain fuel-efficient vehicle, but slaps a $4,000 excise tax on fuel-heavy SUVs and sports cars.
Of course, there are many out there who are forced to use heavy pickups for their businesses, so to appease them, the Government exempted the excise on pickups. According to research released by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants, the program has been driving up sales of new pickup trucks since its introduction in March as a result.

New car-buyers who previously wanted an SUV are now switching to pickup models. Take Ford's Ranger, sales are up 18% for the first seven months of the year...

(and it does not help that the ecoAUTO rebates to not apply to hybrid/green cars which have been imported from the US).

[Source:  Autoblog, The Truth About Cars]

Toyota Announces Prices For 2008 Highlander Hybrid

 Toyota Motor Sales USA announced manufacturer’s suggested retail prices (MSRP) for the 2008 Highlander Hybrid.The 2008 model is larger and quieter than its predecessor, and will be offered in Base and Limited grades, powered by a 3.3-liter V6 with four-wheel drive with intelligence (4WD-i) that delivers 270 hp (201 kW). A new EV Mode, ECON Mode and Hybrid System Indicator assist the driver to enhance fuel economy and driving experience.

Highlander’s advanced Hybrid Synergy Drive system has been upgraded for 2008 for both power and economy. The new Highlander gained about 500 pounds, growing significantly in every dimension and receiving extensive body and chassis reinforcement, aimed specifically at achieving best-in-class crash ratings. Engineers were able to increase output to 270 net horsepower—the same as that produced by the 3.5-liter engine in the conventional hybrid—with no fuel economy penalty.

EV Mode allows the driver to operate the Highlander Hybrid in electric mode for a limited distance at low speeds, or in stop-and-go driving conditions. ECON Mode activates a throttle-control program that smoothes out throttle response; thereby, limiting excessive acceleration. A Hybrid System Indicator provides the driver with a visual guideline for optimizing fuel economy.

Highlander Hybrid rides on an all-new chassis derived from the current Camry and Avalon. It is nearly four inches longer, three inches wider, and has three inches of additional wheelbase than the Highlander it replaces.

With new standard equipment and convenience features, the 2008 Highlander Hybrid base grade 4WD-i model will carry an MSRP of $33,700, a decrease of $190, or 0.6% over the previous generation comparably-equipped Highlander Hybrid.

The Limited grade 4WD i-model will carry a base MSRP of $39,950, an increase of $3,400 or 9.3%. The Highlander Hybrid will arrive in dealerships in early October.