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Hyundai-Kia creeping up on GM

GM’s sales are down 4 per cent compared to this time last year. Meanwhile, fourth-place Korea’s Hyundai-Kia Motors is closing in fast.

Published May 8, 2012

Through to the end of April, once again, U.S. automakers Chrysler and Ford led the way in new vehicle sales in Canada. But the more interesting story may be which company will ultimately end up in third.

According to figures from DesRosiers & Associates, Chrysler and Ford continue to closely battle for the overall sales lead, with year-to-date sales of 79,866 and 79,262 new cars and trucks, respectively.

The third member of the so-called Detroit Big Three: General Motors, with sales of 70,991 vehicles remained in third. But GM’s sales are down 4 per cent compared to this time last year. Meanwhile, fourth-place Korea’s Hyundai-Kia Motors is closing in fast, with sales of 66,688, an increase of over 13 per cent.

Canadian new car buyers’ thirst for small cars will be further quenched with the arrival of an all-new 2013 Mitsubishi Mirage subcompact, a car that’s been on the global auto show circuit for the past year.

As of right now, though, the Mirage looks to be a Canadian-only proposition in North America.

Mitsubishi U.S.A. spokesman, Roger Yasukawa, told the media the subcompact is only “under consideration” for the U.S. market.

The automaker cited the lack of internal resources to launch two cars at the same time (a new Outlander crossover is coming for 2013), the Mirage’s small size, and its anticipated high-price (it’s assembled in Thailand), as reasons for the automaker’s hesitation to commit to an American launch.

As part of trying to sell up to 50,000 cars year annually by 2015, Fiat’s Maserati has committed to a slew of new models, such as its Jeep Grand Cherokee-based Kubang concept and a sedan to compete with Mercedes-Benz’s E-Class.

Also in the cards is a new Maserati two-seat sports car, targeted at the likes of Audi’s R8 and Porsche’s venerable 911 Carrera.

In a report from Leftlanenews.com, the CEO of Maserati, Harald J. Wester, said the new car could be called the GranSport. A mid-mounted V8 engine mated to a dual-clutch automatic transmission borrowed from Fiat’s Ferrari would send power to the rear wheels.

The people who help you look for used car parts online want to now drive your next new car as well.

California-based Google believes self-driving cars can be a reality in the next few years, and has started talking with automakers to make it happen.

At the SAE World Congress in Detroit, Google project manager Anthony Levandowski said the company doesn’t want to eliminate the driver, just make for safer driving.

“We only want to drive cars when they are fun,” he told the Detroit News.

Google could partner with one automaker to offer the technology. Or it could retrofit a small fleet of vehicles. Either way, it’s moving ahead, meeting with insurance companies as part of a multi-pronged effort to make computer-driven cars a reality.

Dan Knott, former head of Chrysler Group purchasing and amateur racer, died April 29 at 51 after a battle with cancer.

After receiving his engineering degree from Michigan State University, where he earned a Master’s of Business Administration in 2002, and stints at American Motors and Bendix, Knott joined Chrysler in 1988, where he had ongoing success.

Knott was part of a number of vehicle development programs, including the groundbreaking and successful 1998 5.9L Limited version of the first-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. Most recently, Knott was the key Chrysler executive in rebuilding the automaker’s struggling relationships with industry suppliers immediately after the U.S. automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy.

Clarkston, Mich.’s Knott also knew his way behind the wheel, participating in such races as Targa’s 2005 rally in Newfoundland.

Knott is survived by his wife Cindy, son Casey his daughter Laura.

Mitsubishi U.S.A. spokesman, Roger Yasukawa, told the media the subcompact is only "under consideration" for the U.S. market.

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