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Bigger sunroofs mean higher gas bills

If heavier sunroofs make up more than a third of a vehicle’s production mix, the vehicle’s fuel-economy testing must include the feature.

  • Sunroof

Tighter fuel economy regulations are forcing automakers to shave kilograms from their new vehicles. But the trend of offering heavy sunroofs and skylights may be mitigating any of those hard-fought weight savings.

In an Automotive News article, the added light from a glass roof is very appealing to new car owners. But these larger (and often costlier) sunroofs can add several more kilograms than a steel roof, while when open, disrupt airflow, increasing aerodynamic drag and reducing fuel economy.

Most sunroofs are less than 0.38 square metres in size. But, for example, the new 2013 Lincoln MKZ sedan will feature a pane of retractable roof four times that size.

If the heavier sunroofs make up more than a third of a vehicle’s production mix, the vehicle’s fuel-economy testing must include the feature. If not, you may not be getting your vehicle’s advertised fuel economy.

Sweden’s Saab to be become Chinese

The last Saab rolled off the line in March 2011. Months later, the automaker was declared insolvent.

But now, a Chinese-Swedish investment group called National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB has bought the bankrupt automaker Saab Automobile and plans to make electric vehicles.

The first vehicle will be based on the company’s 9-3 compact, with plans to go on sale in early 2014.

The new buyers have not bought the rights to build the 9-5 sedan and 9-4X crossover, still owned by General Motors.

Ford and Hyundai see major jumps in perceived quality

Now in its fifth year, ALG’s Perceived Quality Study is a semi-annual U.S. consumer survey measuring the perceived quality of automotive brands. And the latest report saw major gains for two popular automakers.

Honda still ranks highest among mainstream brands, followed by Toyota in second, and Subaru in third.

But with a 37 per cent improvement since 2008, Ford is now fourth overall, while Hyundai’s 25 per cent jump in the same time period placed them in seventh, just behind Nissan, Volkswagen and Mazda.

Honda trying to reduce exports from Japan

While Honda and its Japanese rivals continue to rank high with customers in quality, its “made in Japan” products are losing their makers money.

“Under the current exchange rate of 80 yen per (U.S. dollar), our export business doesn’t make any profit,” Honda’s chief financial officer Fumihiko Ike told Automotive News.

The availability at dealerships of imported nameplates, like the Fit subcompact and the Insight and CR-Z hybrids may be reduced in the near future.

About 85 per cent of Honda vehicles sold in North America are built there. And a new plant being built in Mexico is scheduled to build the next-generation of Honda subcompacts.

All-new Audi compact sedan oncoming later this year

First seen at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show in concept form, a new four-door version of the compact Audi A3 is set to go on sale in North America by the end of this year, right after its global unveiling at this fall’s Paris auto show.

While new, European versions of the A3 hatchback and convertible were revealed at this year’s Geneva show, neither has been confirmed for North American buyers.

Significantly, the new A3 will be based on parent Volkswagen Group’s new Modular Transverse Matrix, an extremely flexible platform that will underpin a wide variety of future products, including the next-generation VW Golf.

  • Bigger sunroofs mean higher gas bills

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