Automotive News


NASCAR and the Marketing Genius

Nascar is the up and coming sport in America. It has surpassed Hockey as the number 4 sport on the national scene. It is quickly approaching the popularity level of The National Basketball Association if not already surpassing it in some arenas. The NASCAR fan base is a rabid consumer group that is courted every race Sunday by no less than 43 primary sponsors.

These fans are loyal to their favorite driver's primary sponsor. Rarely will you find a Tony Stewart fan in a Lowe's, likewise you won't find a Jimmie Johnson fan browsing the local Home Depot. So where did this rabid fan base originate?

Back on December 14, 1947, Bill France and several members from different organizations decided during meetings to officially form the NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing). This decision was cemented corporately on February 21, 1948. The Association was going to stage races for the public. During the first years 8 races were ran to determine a NASCAR champion. All the while the fan base was growing.

Unlike CART and other racing forms the premise for NASCAR was a run what you could buy at the dealership mentality. During the early years the fans could purchase the cars that they saw running on the tracks. With little to no modification these cars could be lined up on the local streets and raced. This occurred regularly. As the fans saw the races and developed an identity with the cars on the track they became avid consumers of the drivers products. The drivers were the ultimate spokesmen for the cars reputation. If they could wind with them on the track then clearly they were worth driving on the streets.

As time proceeded safety modifications led to speed modifications and the executives at NASCAR relaxed the run what you bought mentality and the cars drifted from the original designs of the manufacturers. Roll cages were added necessitating the advent of tubular frames for the cars. The engines were removed from the cars and heavily modified. The suspension was changed to accommodate the variation in frame design. All the while NASCAR maintained an external body design that the racing fan could identify with in their driveway. This identification was transferred to the products that the drivers were advertising on their cars.

The greatest link to advertising in the early years of NASCAR was STP/Dodge/ and Richard Petty. This link is so strong that even today when you think of NASCAR racing, the tall black haired gentlemen with the blue and red car comes to mind quickly. Legions of fans would drive their Dodge cars to the track placing STP products into their cars because that was what Richard would do.

This Marketing effort has been carried over as NASCAR has expanded from its original fanbase of southern towns to locales elsewhere. Recent track additions have included New Hampshire, Phoenix, California. All of these speedways are critical to the expanding NASCAR juggernaut. But that write-up is going to be saved for another article.

By R.U. Charles (Reprinted with permission)

Hydrogen Powered Cars: The New Way to Go

With the ever-rising price of fossil fuels, it's no wonder alternative sources of transportation, such as the hydrogen powered car, are getting new looks. Cars that run off hydrogen, rather than gasoline, are cleaner for the environment, don't deplete a precious resource and they are not a far off invention.

The hydrogen car's potential implications for the environment, economy and even politics make it an interesting idea. These cars just might be the answer to getting around without wasting a precious, limited resource. And, they just might help stave off environmental issues as well. But, what are hydrogen cars and how do they work?

A hydrogen car is simply one that relies on hydrogen rather than gasoline for power. There are two basic types: combustion and fuel-cell conversion. Both are currently in existence, but neither have been moved into full-scale production for a number of reasons.

The combustion engine is similar to what is used in most automobiles now. It simply burns fuel to create power. Combustion engines already in existence can be modified for hydrogen burning.

Fuel-cell conversion, on the other hand, uses the hydrogen and turns it into electricity. This electricity provides the power for the engine's electric motor.

Regardless of the process used, the byproduct of combustion or fuel-cell conversion is simply water. Rather than ozone depleting fuel, what's left behind is nothing more than good, old fashion H2O.

Adding to its environmentally friendly stance, hydrogen is more or less a renewable source. It comes from the decomposition of methane or can be gleaned from water. Inasmuch, its only byproduct is water vapor. And, unlike fossil fuels it is fully renewable.

Despite its potential, hydrogen cars have not been moved into full-scale production for a number of reasons. The world's dependence on oil is a strong one and it will be hard to break. Entire economies depend on its production, processing and sale, so making the switch to hydrogen will be difficult at best.

In addition to a resistance from oil producers, auto manufacturers, too, must get on the bandwagon before this will become a reality. They are, however, beginning more and more to research and develop cars that run on hydrogen. The engines involved in modern cars can in fact be converted to burn hydrogen.

One of the biggest problems with switching to all hydrogen is a problem with storage. Car fuel tanks need to be better developed for this as would "hydrogen stations" where drivers can refuel. In addition, more study needs to be done to increase the miles per gallon hydrogen vehicles can muster.

Although much work still needs to be done to replace gasoline-based cars with hydrogen models, the idea is more than feasible. In fact, with gas prices soaring, it's looking more and more like a real possibility these cars will someday rule the roads. Already there are cars, buses, trucks and even rockets that use hydrogen for their power to some extent.

Reprinted with permission of Hydrogen Car News.

Unique Fuel Conversion System for Ethanol Power Cars

It is a product of sugar metabolism in certain species of yeast in the absence of oxygen. The process of culturing yeast under conditions to produce alcohol is referred to as brewing. Yeasts can grow in the presence of up to only about 14% alcohol, but the concentration of alcohol in the final product can be increased by distillation.

Ethanol contains oxygen that provides a cleaner and more efficient burn of the fuel. When used in ethanol power cars, it reduces carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming. Burning ethanol still releases carbon dioxide during production and combustion.

The use of ethanol blended fuel is very popular in the United States. One of the most popular is e85 fuel, a mixture of conventional gasoline and ethanol. The result is a much cleaner burning fuel that is just as efficient as standard fuels. This mixture is optimized for a combination of clean exhaust and efficiency and will function properly in almost any non-diesel car or truck.

So, what is ethanol? Ethanol is ethyl alcohol which needs to be 100% pure. Ethanol is the highest performance fuel on the market and keeps today's high-compression engines running smoothly. Ethanol-blended fuel (such as e85) keeps your fuel system clean, because it does not leave gummy exhausts.

And because ethanol burns cleaner, it produces fewer emissions. Today, all ethanol cars manufacturers approve the use of ethanol blended fuels and even recommend to use ethanol for its positive environmental impacts.

The use of an ethanol will increase the performance of ethanol cars in general. Initial tests showed that ethanol may also extend from 20 to 80% the engine's maintenance. The conversion of existing engines is not only feasible, but also cost effective.

One of the most convenient ethanol-gasoline mixtures is called e85 and consists of 85% ethanol to 15% gasoline. Ethanol fueled cars are specially designed to run as well as on the mixture of ethanol to gas as on alcohol fuel; moreover, they are able to detect the specific ratio of ethanol to gas and adjust themselves accordingly to run as efficiently as possible. Ethanol cars that run on ethanol can also run on regular gas, too, that's how flexible they really are!

Using flex-fuel converter system AutoFFV will allow you to refuel your ethanol cars with alcohol, gasoline or a mixture of both E85.

From now you don't need to use only gasoline to run your car as there are a lot of different alternative fuels. The choice of alternative fuel sources is larger today than it has ever been before. Take advantage of flex-fuel conversion system and run your ethanol cars on economic alcohol or ethanol fuels instead of traditional gasoline.

By Vidar Lura (Reprinted with permission)

What You Need To Know About Hybrid Cars

Hybrid cars definitely help fight the pollution problem by reducing emissions.

Hybrid cars combine a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor. The electric motor kicks in at certain speeds; because of this, the hybrid engine gets significantly better gas mileage than a conventional gas engine.

Hybrids consume less gas and produce less pollution per mile than conventional gasoline engines. Hybrid cars have been on the market in the United States since 1999, but more and more are being developed and introduced each year.

The hybrid engine currently sold in the Honda Civic Hybrid gets 10 to 15 miles more per gallon than a regular gas engine in the same car. The hybrid engine of the Prius, made by Toyota, produces 90 percent fewer harmful emissions than a comparable gasoline engine. No doubt about it, these cars are good for the environment!

Hybrids are more expensive. Just like with any new technology, you will pay for the privilege of being a pioneer. The hybrid cars on the market today cost as much as $6000 more per car than comparable cars with conventional gas engines.

This means that the amount of money you save, or don't save, by buying a hybrid is very much dependent on gasoline prices and also depends upon how long you intend to keep the vehicle.

If you are the type person who trades every two years you may very well not benefit from the savings. If gas is priced at $1.80 per gallon (we wish), it could take the average driver (15,000 miles per year) between 10 and 15 years to amortize the $3500 increase in the initial price.

If gas prices stay the way they are at the time of this writing in October 2005 you will realize savings much more quickly.

The Federal government is still offering tax breaks to buyers of hybrid cars through 2006. The amount of the tax break you are able to claim depends on the year in which you file and the tax bracket you're in. Some individual states also offer tax breaks for hybrid buyers. So maybe being an environmentalist has its tax advantages.

By Gregg Hall (Reprinted with permission)

Car Industry in India for Next Generation

Not very long ago, the only cars that were available in India were the Ambassador and the Premier Padmini. The Ambassador is a replica of the Morris Oxford – an old British car, while the Premier Padmini was a Fiat 1100 assembled in India.

All that was in pre-liberalization India, which existed before 1991, when the first liberalization measures were announced. Earlier, the production of the Maruti Suzuki 800 hatchback car in 1983 – a joint venture between Government of India and Suzuki Motors of Japan, paved the way for a renaissance in the Indian automobile sector.

Post liberalization, India is on every car manufacturer’s map. The reasons are not hard to notice. Currently, India is the second largest two-wheeler market and the fourth largest commercial vehicle market in the world. Not only is it the eleventh largest passenger car market globally, but it is also expected to be the seventh largest by 2016.

Post liberalization, many foreign manufacturers have lined up and have setup base in India. Other domestic manufacturers have also improved production levels and are in the race for producing better models as well.

Some of the car manufacturers who have set up base in India are Audi, BMW, Chevrolet Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Mahindra, Maruti, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Skoda, Suzuki, Tata, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. India’s economic growth is booming currently. These manufacturers have set up manufacturing facilities in India, or are importing cars and spares to meet the demands of this growing market.

For example, companies like Ford are planning to make India a regional hub for exports of both small cars as well as engines. According to Mr. Michael Boneham, President Designate for Ford India, the company plans to export the small car and the engine for markets abroad. He indicated that one of the markets would be chiefly Ford Asia Pacific Region while other markets are under consideration presently.

There are many reasons for the impressive growth of the Indian car industry. Some of these are comparatively easy availability of vehicle finance, attractive rates of interest, and convenient installments.

Competition has forced manufacturers to be innovative and responsive to customer demands and needs. Now that India is not alien to quality and perfection, customer expectations have soared to higher levels. Depending upon customer needs, four segments - small, midsize, premium and sports utility vehicles currently represent the car market in the country.

A niche concept cars segment is also emerging wherein reputed re-modelers like DC Chhabria cater to individuals who wish to remodel their vehicles to create concept cars for their use. Contrarily, a segment is also emerging comprising people who wish to upgrade to cars from two wheelers. Tata already is in the process of launching the small car Nano to suit this segment’s needs. Many other car manufacturers such as Bajaj Auto are also following suit and are in the process of coming up with their specific versions to cater to this segment.

Currently, there is high demand for cars across all these segments. With the growing economy, people left with a lot of disposable income spend it towards meeting their mobility needs such as cars. Banks and other financial institutions have an assortment of vehicle loan schemes with attractive rates of interest and convenient installments.

These schemes encourage people to go in for loans to purchase cars of their choice. Additionally, a convenient union budget in the current financial year (2008-09) has worked in favor of the automobile sector, which has seen an uptrend in sales across various segments.

The latest trend of new cars on Indian road has led to the emergence of an entirely new market in second hand cars too. Many entrepreneurial and professional dealerships have sprung up in many cities in India dealing in second hand cars.

The growth of the second hand market is not surprising. The new car market has grown at an incredible pace in India. As mentioned, loans are easily available in the country for purchase of new cars. Moreover, many people are now upwardly mobile. Therefore, people who were earlier part of the small car segment now have moved over to the premium car segment, and those in this segment have moved over to the luxury car segment.

Therefore, the trend is to get rid of the cars that defined them as part of the earlier segments and buy cars that identify them with the newer segments. Apparently, the desire for newer cars and models is yet another reason. People get attracted by newer models, which prompt them to acquire them. This makes them sell their current cars for reasonable resale values.

This phenomenon benefits those who want to buy cars, but are not able to afford new ones. Many companies like Maruti Suzuki (Maruti True Value) have also established resale showrooms where people can purchase genuine, good condition, second hand cars at reasonable prices.

With the emergence of favorable trends in the automobile sector in India, what remains to be seen is how these developments will go a long way to transform the mobility needs of the ordinary Indian.

By Infibeam.com (Reprinted with permission)

Get Ready For The Arrival Of Hybrid Sports Cars

Now I can get excited about hybrid cars. The industry is finally thinking about the people that don't want to sacrifice performance for gas mileage. The Japanese as always it seems are leading the way in this new segment of the hybrid industry working on cars that feature lithium batteries and electric motors. Incredible as it may seem there is a report that there is at least one sports car under development that is capable of producing 470 horsepower!

Hydrogen fueled cars are also being developed as well and it seems that Mazda is putting a lot of research into this segment using its rotary engine. Mazda has been working on being able to produce a hydrogen burning car for years and hopefully they will be able to do it without giving up performance.

The hybrid that seems to have the most promise currently is from the Japanese automaker giant, Toyota. Their Priapus is a normal gas-electric hybrid that is capable of accelerating from zero to sixty in under 4 seconds which seems to be the equivalent of the 4 minute mile for performance cars. The car also still maintains decent fuel economy getting over thirty miles to the gallon. The 70k price tag will make it less than affordable for most and it will be tough to make up for it in gas savings. Personally for another 10k I would have to buy the new totally electric car coming out next summer from the new Tesla Motors that will give you a real opportunity to recoup the investment.

The hybrid industry isn't being dominated by just the Japanese; a couple of former designers from Jaguar are working on a V10 version of the hybrid that has even received grants from the government in England to help them bring the car to production.

Nations all over the world are instituting higher standards for fuel efficiency to try to force automakers into making cars with better fuel economy. With gas prices continuing to rise and the ever present instability in the Middle East you can expect to see more attention to be paid to hybrid research as well as other alternatives. On top of all of the savings we will begin to see some of the negative effects that gas burning cars have done to the economy.

With the recent trend to offer sports cars from the hybrid camps and the newly unveiled Tesla concept car being built by 2007 all fears that sports cars were headed the way of the designer are disappearing. We will see high performance sports cars that will offer the best performance imaginable along with great fuel economy or not using gas at all!

By Gregg Hall (Reprinted with permission)

How is GPS going to change your life?

You may not realize it but it is getting harder and harder to live without GPS devices. Did you know that so many cell phones have GPS systems in them and so do cars and of course there are the GPS devices that you take camping and such. Every day a new form of GPS hits the market, in a few years we may have these systems implanted at birth!

Everyone can appreciate the ability to find their way around and find anything and anyone if they go missing and that is why these systems are getting to be so popular. I cannot imagine what I did before I had my GPS installed in my car. Now I can drive in any city anyplace in the world and never get lost. I do not even have to red the street signs the GPS will tell me where to turn and in which direction.

When you have one of these systems in your car you will be able to track it when it gets stolen as well which is perfect with all of the cars getting stolen these days. Every year more car thieves are hitting the streets and now you can protect yourself by getting a GPS system installed in your car. Heck, some cars come with these systems already installed in them. These are just the things to get in your next car.

GPS in phones are also great, they have actually been used to find people who were missing. You can track a person by the GPS in their phone just about anywhere. These are getting more and more common all of the time.

Having a GPS system will save you an enormous amount of time and frustration, if you don't have any GPS devices yet then you will want to hurry out and get one today. They will change your life forever.

By S. Stammberger (Reprinted with permission)

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