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Automotive News – October 6, 2010

Here’s the latest news from the automotive industry:

Stricter Crash Test Requirements Produce Disappointing Score

Crash Test DummiesNew, more stringent crash test standards have caused many top-selling car models to receive lower safety ratings. In the latest round of test results just released by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), only the Hyundai Sonata and BMW 5 received the maximum five star rating. By contrast, the top-selling Toyota Camry, which just last year received five stars, was awarded just three. The Nissan Versa was at the bottom of 50 models tested, receiving just two stars. The NHTSA’s new tests include side-pole crashes and a wider range of test-dummy sizes to better represent real-world conditions.

Smart to Sell Nissan-Built Small Car in 2011

Smart Nissan Sub-CompactSmart USA, which bombed with its Daimler-built ForTwo micro-car import, is trying again to crack the mini-car market, this time with a four-seater to be built by Nissan Motors. The unnamed “B-segment” car, to be built in Mexico on Nissan’s new global V platform, is expected to sell in the $10,000 range. One version may have a three-cylinder engine. Expect to see it in showrooms in Q4 2011. Smart is a division of the Penske Automotive Group, America’s second-larger auto retailer.

Mercedes to Offer 4-Cylinder S-Class Sedan

Mercedes S-ClassAs part of its drive to become “the most fuel-efficient premium carmaker,” Daimler has announced that, for the first time in the model’s 70-year history, the flagship S-Class sedan will be made available with a four-cylinder engine. Once deemed “unthinkable,” the move was reportedly made in reaction to arch-rival BMW’s pledge to lower its fleet’s C02 emissions by 25 percent by 2020. The S-Class’s new four-cylinder engine will be a 2.2-liter diesel that is already available on some Mercedes C- and E-class cars. It uses 5.7 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers and emits just 149 grams of C02 per kilometer.

Driving a Silver Car? You’re Not Alone

Autol Paint SamplesFor the 10th year in a row, silver is the top vehicle color worldwide, according to the annual report by PPG Industries, the world’s largest maker of truck and car paint. Silver, along with gray and charcoal, accounted for 31 percent of all automotive paint jobs, according to PPG. Black and white tied for second place with 18 percent. Green, which was the number-one color 16 years ago, has dropped to last place with just a 4-percent ranking.

Toyota’s Problems Decelerate

Toyota PriusComplaints of unintended accelerations have dropped from 800 per week last April to just 150 per week, according to Toyota Motor Corp. The Japanese automaker also reports that it has repaired more than 60 percent of the some six million vehicles that were recalled for out-of-place floor mats or sticky pedals. After examining 4,200 vehicles that were part of the recall, Toyota says it found no evidence that the vehicle’s electronic throttle-control systems could lead to unintended acceleration. Even so, the company is equipping all of its 2011 models with brake override that cancels the accelerator if both pedals are pushed at the same time. Most competitors offer this technology on their models.

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