Looking for bright spots in auto sales so far in 2010 is like hunting for diamonds in a parking lot at Wal-Mart. You are hard pressed to find anything, and when you do, you have to examine it closely to determine its actual worth.
Danny Scott of Lutcher, Louisiana, said he's thrilled about the new vehicle he purchased through the "cash for clunkers" program, but watch how you talk about his baby, the 1991 Ford F-150 he had to give up.
Flag-waving American loyalists were heartened to see the announcement that Toyota's January-to-March profit sank 28%. It provided evidence that even mighty Toyota can't escape the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - the deadly combination of high fuel prices, surging raw material costs, the global credit crunch and a strong yen.
Every year, millions of dollars' worth of vehicles end up as masses of tangled sheet metal and twisted parts in crash tests across the country. Those tests have saved millions of lives since they began six decades ago.
Two-thirds of pickups, vans and sport-utility vehicles don't provide acceptable protection against whiplash in rear-end collisions, according to tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
You don't see any on the streets of Manhattan, but almost everywhere else, the homely pickup truck is America's common carrier. GM, Ford and Chrysler sell more pickups than do they anything else, more than two million a year in good times. In addition to high volume, pickups also produce high profits because they are relatively isolated from foreign competition.
Top executives at General Motors say they are looking for additional cost savings in upcoming negotiations with the United Auto Workers union, but they cautioned analysts Thursday not to look for another round of deep job cuts or perhaps even the level of savings already seen in recent labor agreements.
The 2005 models of the Toyota Tacoma and the Dodge Dakota received the top safety ratings in both front and side crash tests, the government reported Wednesday, while the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra got the lowest ratings.
The 4-wheel drive Chrysler Pacifica received the top ranking among all 2004 model year sport/utility vehicles that have been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's new, more detailed, roll-over ratings. The new rating system was announced today.