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Automotive News – April 29, 2011

Toyota is tops among African and Asian-Americans. Japanese disasters force Ford to look elsewhere for metallic paints. VW to sell new high-performance Euro-car in the U.S. These and other stories of interest from the automotive industry in this week’s Automotive News.

Toyota is the Favorite Car Brand Among African-Americans, Asian-Americans

Toyota LogoToyota was the favorite brand of African-American and Asian-American car buyers in 2010, according to a recent survey by R.L. Polk & Co. Last year, 15 percent of all new vehicles purchased by African-Americans were Toyotas, that number nearly doubling to 28 percent for the Asian-American market. Ford was No. 2 among African-Americans with an 11.7 percent market share, but dropped to a distant eighth among Asian-Americans with a 2.9 percent market share. In the survey, Buick saw the largest percentage increase among both demographic groups: 72.2 percent for African-Americans and 58.1 percent among Asian-Americans.

GM Likely to Be World’s #1 Automaker in 2011

General Motors HeadquartersWhen all the numbers are in, General Motors (GM) is likely to regain its spot as the world’s number one automaker, according to industry experts. This is due to two factors, (1) GM has emerged from bankruptcy a leaner and meaner organization with greater business focus and better products. This is reflected in its rising sales in the U.S. and China, the world’s top two auto markets; (2) The current leader, Toyota, has been badly hobbled by the natural disasters in Japan (see above) and an equally brutal tsunami of product recalls, which has badly damaged the company’s longstanding reputation for quality. That GM is a major presence is rapidly growing China while Toyota is not again bodes well for the American manufacturer’s dominance in 2011 and perhaps beyond.

Ford Finds Replacements for Japanese Paints

Painting FordsThe recent Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster has caused massive disruptions throughout the automotive supply pipeline. Among these was the shut-off of Xirallic-based paints produced in Japan by German supplier Merck KGaA for Ford Motor Co. Its manufacturing facility happens to be located near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, and no workers have been allowed to get close to it since mid-May. Now, more than a month after the disaster, Ford has announced it has found nonmetallic black and metallic red paints to replace those formerly supplied by Merck. Six other metallic colors will go out of production in the next few weeks due to the shortage of Xirallic, which gives paint its metallic sheen.

Ford Betting Big on New Engine
Ford CDI EngineAlthough alternate-energy vehicles are getting a lot of attention in the media, Ford is still betting heavily on the viability of the traditional internal combustion engine. Or perhaps not so conventional. Coming on its 2012 Focus will be an all-new 2.0 GDI engine, the company’s first-ever naturally aspirated engine with gas direct injection. The all-aluminum engine features a stainless steel fuel rail on the side of the cylinder head instead of atop it, and features high-pressure solenoid injectors that can pump 2200 to 2800 psi, compared to 600 to 700 psi for a conventional port fuel injection motor. The result is an engine that delivers 160 horsepower at 6500 rpm and EPA fuel mileage at 28/40. Ford says it can build anything from 1.8 to 2.5 liters off the new GDI architecture, so the engine could potentially power larger, heavier vehicles in the future.

VW to Sell High-Performance Golf R in U.S.
VW Golf RBy popular demand, Volkswagen has decided to sell its high-performance Golf R in the United States beginning in 2012, the company has announced. Previously available only in Europe, the Golf R sub-compact will be offered to American consumers in three- and five-door configurations with a manual-only transmission. The car has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, 4Motion all-wheel drive and larger brakes and firmer suspension than the current Golf GTI. Prices are expected to start in the mid-$30K range.

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