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Detroit Auto Show: Big Sales, New Models, Fuel Efficiency

Monday, January 14, 2013

A 2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7 Stingray on display at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

(Mitchell Hartman, Marketplace)  The North American International Auto Show has kicked off in Detroit this week. Last year clearly showed the big-three U.S. automakers were back -- after GM and Chrysler got bailouts, and Chrysler also got new investment and leadership from Fiat. Auto sales were the highest since the recession began.

Facing ambitious new federal mileage standards (fleets have to average 54.5 mpg by 2025), and higher gas prices, automakers are touting ‘fuel efficiency’ at the auto show.

And no longer is it just for mid-market compacts. Even pickups, and sports cars like the new Chevy Corvette, brag on their gas mileage.

The new Corvette -- with styling like the Stingray of the 1970s, after which it is named -- came out from under the fancy tarps yesterday at the show. GM says it’ll get much better mileage than the previous version, which did 16 mpg in the city.

Many of the premier GM, Chrysler and Ford brands are now considered as reliable and well-engineered as European and Japanese performance cars -- and they tend to be cheaper.

Hybrid gas-electric car sales were up nearly 70 percent in the U.S. last year.

But automakers are also pushing higher fuel efficiency in conventional gasoline engines. They’re using lighter metals like aluminum, magnesium, and ultra-strong plastics. Also, there are ever-smarter computers in car engines that get more ‘oomph’ on a four-cylinder engine. Diesel vehicles, which can get better mileage and have become much more clean-running, are also gaining traction in the U.S. market.

One thing that’s changed from decades past, says auto analyst Paul Eisenstein atTheDetroitBureau.com: The domestic car market has become truly international.

“Does Detroit still matter as the dominant player in the U.S. auto industry?” asks Eisenstein. “No. There’s competition from all over the world that’ll continue to grow.”

But Eisenstein says there’s a flip side -- GM has to compete with Hyundai or BMW here. And those companies have to take the U.S. automakers seriously abroad.

“Chevy had record sales last year -- significant enough,” Eisenstein says. “But 60 percent of their volume took place overseas. And a good portion of that took place in all the emerging markets, like China, Brazil and Russia.”

Automakers could have record profits this year, and luxury cars are expected to fly off showroom floors. This year at the auto show new luxury models are on display from Cadillac, Lincoln, Lexus, Infiniti, BMW, Bentley, Audi, Acura, and Maserati.

Germany’s BMW is predicting record sales again this year. Ford is predicting luxury sales will be up 7.5 percent this year -- almost double what the company anticipates for its mass-market models.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: LaHood Defends Auto Bailout, Christie Ready to "Get My Arms" Around the Port Authority

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Joe Lhota, The MTA’s Rider/Chairman, Uninimously Confirmed (Link)
Transit Advocates: Where’s the Money for a Direct Train to New Convention Center? (Link)
Severe Weather Events Continue to Cost US: Big $$ to Alabama, Vermont, NY, NJ (Link)
New York’s Night Riders Unhappy with Subway Sleep (Link)
Rick Santorum, as Senator, Preached the Gospel of Transit (Link)

Ray LaHood (center; blue tie) at the Detroit Auto Show (photo courtesy of US DOT/Fast Lane)

NJ Governor Christie says he and NY Governor Cuomo are ready to work together on the Port Authority: "It's my time to get my arms around this agency now." (NorthJersey.com)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood kicks off the Detroit Auto Show; defends government bailout of automakers. (Detroit Free Press)

And: automakers are flooding the auto show with new hybrids, but with gas prices below $4 a gallon, consumers are not buying them. (New York Times)

Chinatown bus company Double Happyness -- under federal orders to stop operating after being deemed an "'imminent hazard' to public safety"--has continued to sell tickets, violating a cease and desist order that was issued last week. (DNA Info)

Canceling the ARC tunnel last year cost NJ Transit nearly $300 million, according to an audit. (The Record)

DC's Metro is proposing a 5% fare increase. (WAMU)

Detroit's light rail project may yet live again, just .. shorter. (Transport Politic)

Want a state road for free? A Nevada transportation official said Monday that there has been "zero interest" in his agency's offer to give counties and cities 903 miles of state-owned and maintained roads. (Las Vegas Review Journal)

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: One-Way Streets Losing Favor, Nigerian Unions Launch Strike Over Fuel Costs, Taking Parking Lots Seriously

Monday, January 09, 2012

Top stories on TN:
Exploring Grand Central’s Secrets, With the Author of Hugo Cabret (Link)
California Budget Supports Bullet Train, Would Create New Transportation Agency (Link)
Houston Starts Small As It Tries Out First-Ever Bike Share (Link)

A Christian Lacroix-designed tram in Montpellier, France (photo courtesy of Montpellier Agglomération Officiel)

Transit advocates are expressing doubt over the capacity to run an express subway train from midtown Manhattan to a proposed new convention center in Queens. (WNYC)

Montpellier, France, is installing "what may be Europe’s sexiest tram system." (New York Times)

Nigerian unions have launched a nationwide strike over soaring fuel costs. (BBC)

Taking parking lots seriously as public spaces: "Lots don’t need to be dead zones." (New York Times)

One-way streets are in the crosshairs of some city planners. (National Post)

The Detroit Auto Show is happening this week. (Detroit Free Press; coverage)

Legislation being drawn up in Atlanta could play a key role in determining the fate of the state's $6.14 billion transportation referendum scheduled for this summer. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

To market more cars to Americans, Volkswagen is getting less German. (NPR)

Los Angeles Times pro-high-speed rail editorial: "The point is, you can take the long view or the short view toward the bullet train. The expert panels are taking a short view; we prefer the long."

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to start construction of a new Central Terminal Building at La Guardia Airport in 2014. (Wall Street Journal)

Police are ticketing passengers for subway infractions like propping up feet on a seat, blocking the doors, or taking up more than one seat. (New York Times)

Transit advocates haven't given up hope yet for a bus lane over the new Tappan Zee Bridge. (Journal News)

"Let's do a bicycle ride!" Ron Paul wants to prove he's healthy enough to be president. (Politico)

Before the "L," Chicago ran on cable cars. (WBEZ)

Reminder: New York City's first-ever subway line work shutdown begins tonight. (TN)

 

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: The Auto Industry Looks Into the Future; NJ Transit Studies Light Rail Over Bayonne Bridge, and Will BART Operate 24 Hours A Day?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

BART station (Jason Schlachet/Flickr)

New Jersey Transit is considering a future expansion of the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail over the Bayonne Bridge into Staten Island; a Port Authority spokesman said it's far too early to say whether it's a realistic proposition. (Jersey Journal) (More on the upcoming Bayonne Bridge work can be found here.)

Missouri approves new rules for speeding and red light cameras on state roads. The key phrase: "regulate," not "eliminate." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

KALW takes a look at BART's new year resolutions--and previews what transportation changes will be coming in 2011 for the Bay Area.  Will BART operate 24 hours a day? Stay tuned...

Want to know what the auto industry will look like in five years? The Detroit Free Press reads the tea leaves at this week's Auto Show.

A state panel votes to replace Texas Transportation Commission with a single chief. "I see this as being an almost Cabinet-level-like appointment," says the panel's vice chair. (Dallas Morning News)

A New Jersey lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require bicycles to have license plates; bike advocates are not amused. So far, no one else has signed on to the bill. (NorthJersey.com)

Do London's bike superhighways boost cycling? Streetsblog says yes.

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: it snowed -- and New York City didn't grind to a halt. One weapon in the war against snow: GPS devices on snowplows.  Meanwhile, in Houston, a state vs. county battle is brewing over who will build the Grand Parkway -- a 180-mile ring around the city that will traverse seven counties. And: author Tony Hiss talks about his new book, In Motion: The Experience of Travel.

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The Takeaway

Detroit Auto Show: Hybrid Vs. Electric Cars

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What cars — and trends — are making their debut at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show? Paul Eisenstein of The Detroit Bureau says that following a surprisingly strong year for the Big Three, things are looking good for American automakers at this year's show. Meanwhile, this was the first visit to the show by Toyota's CEO, who was in Detroit to promote the Prius. He admitted that his brand has faced a challenging year.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: LA Retires Last Diesel Bus, Why Taxis Are Scarce in NYC at 5pm, and Snowstorm Disrupts Travel -- but Newark Is Prepared

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Giant amoeba-shaped" snowstorm blankets northeast, snarls flights, causes some transit disruptions. (New York Times)

Get your NYC winter storm travel advisories here.

Senator John Kerry warns that partisan fighting threatens US's global standing, urges colleagues to invest the hundreds of billions to repair the nation’s decaying transportation infrastructure and build a renewable-energy technology sector. (The Hill)

Wondering how Newark prepared for today's snowstorm? Wait no more!

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority retires its last diesel bus today, becomes first (and only) major transit agency in the nation with a fleet that is totally equipped with alternative-fuel technologies. (Los Angeles Times)

Ever feel like you can't get a taxi on a NYC street at 5pm? You're right, because data proves cabs disappear by the hundreds between 4pm and 5pm. (New York Times)

Chicago's Metra commuter rail introduces a quiet-car program, providing a haven for passengers who don't want to "hear about every medical malady in the world." (Chicago Tribune)

A federal audit sharply criticizes Miami-Dade Transit for shoddy financial management and weak internal controls -- including improper accounting for bus fare boxes and a failure to document how federal grant money has been spent. No word yet on when federal transit dollars will flow to Miami again. (Miami Herald)

TheCityFix takes a look at how transit systems worldwide use symbols to help you find your way.

The Takeaway looks at hybrids vs. electric cars at the Detroit Auto Show; listen below!

New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Bramhall neatly combines Mayor Bloomberg's apparent flight from Bermuda during the 12/26 blizzard with his attempts at improving city snowplows.

Bill Bramhall, New York Daily News

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NJ Gets Another ARC Repayment Extension, and Will NYC's MTA Preemptively Shut Down Some Subways During Blizzards?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Public-private partnerships are winning converts for transportation projects. (Marketplace)

New Jersey now has until January 18th to repay the federal government $271 million for the ARC Tunnel. (Star-Ledger)

Day one of the North American International Auto Show, wrapped up by a Detroit News reporter who had to be at a 6:30am press conference:

The New York Daily News says the MTA may shut down at least some subway service during future blizzards rather than risk trains getting stuck.

Illinois lawmakers voted yesterday to end the practice of giving all senior citizens free rides on local buses and trains. (Chicago Tribune)

Some California transportation officials are pleased with Jerry Brown's budget. (Mercury News)

Who's to blame for this week's spate of flight cancellations: Mother Nature or the federal government? (Wall Street Journal's "Middle Seat" blog)

Governance reform is in the works at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA): according to Greater Greater Washington, "the plan highlights a good set of proposals for immediate action, but cuts out Northern Virginia governments in a way that could hurt the region and Metro."

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