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Garage Briefs

E-Vehicle label to set them apart

June 02, 2007|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

Gas prices got you down? Is the proliferation of car and truck models out there making it hard to find something that fits both your transportation and fuel-efficiency needs?

The nation's largest chain of new-car dealerships wants to help. And boost its sales as a result, of course.

Beginning this week, all 271 AutoNation Inc. dealerships across the country, including 33 in the chain's Southern California-based Power Auto Group, are identifying the most fuel-efficient vehicles in their stores and online inventories with a special E-Vehicle logo.

The idea is that a shopper who wants -- maybe even really needs -- a hulking big SUV can quickly identify the most fuel efficient of the crop in stock.

To qualify, a car, truck, van or SUV must be rated at 28 miles per gallon or more, or be at least 10% more fuel efficient than the average of other vehicles in the same segment.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday June 06, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 0 inches; 32 words Type of Material: Correction
Vehicle sales: A chart in Business on Saturday listing the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. in May indicated that the numbers represented thousands of units sold. The numbers were actual units sold.

So that it's not just a car salesman's word you're being asked to accept, the Power group has teamed with Edmunds.com, a Santa Monica-based automotive information provider, to identify the qualifying vehicles.

Those that qualify will bear a green, leaf-shaped E-Vehicle sticker and a checklist specifying which fuel-efficiency criteria they meet. Vehicles viewed on the company's online inventory of more than 80,000 cars and trucks will have, of course, digital stickers and checklists.

Power group dealerships also will tag flex-fuel vehicles, including those that use ethanol, with a yellow (for the corn that ethanol is made from) F-Vehicle label.

Happy hunting.

Nissan plans

electric vehicle

Nissan wants to juice it up.

Japan's No. 3 automaker says it will develop a battery-powered electric car that could be on sale in Japan and Europe early next decade.

There are no plans -- yet -- to make it available in the United States, a company spokesman said.

Nissan recently announced a joint venture with electronics giant NEC Corp. to develop high-power lithium ion batteries for gasoline-electric hybrid cars, and said the same partnership would develop the drive system for the all-electric car.

Nissan Motor Corp. was one of the automakers that introduced prototype electric cars in California in the late 1990s. It still uses the state's highways as a test bed for an electric version of its Japanese-market Hypermini ultra-compact.

The automaker has said it also intends to unveil a production model fuel-cell electric vehicle for testing in Japan early next decade.

Battery-powered electric cars store energy in batteries that are recharged from the commercial power grid while fuel-cell EVs use an on-board electro-chemical reaction to produce electricity from hydrogen fuel stored in pressurized tanks.

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Closing the gap

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U.S. new vehicle sales rose 5% in May 1.5 million, only the second monthly rise this year. Toyota, seen as a leader in fuel economy, posted the biggest gain among the 10 biggest major automakers. Sales of its Prius hybrid almost tripled from a year earlier.

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*--* Year-to-date '06 YTD May sales %change sales YTD sales '06 YTD (thousands from (millions market (millions market of units) May'06 of units) share of units) share General Motors 368.2 +9.8% 1.6 23.0% 1.6 23.5% Toyota 269.0 +14.1% 1.1 16.0% 1.0 14.6% Ford 243.3 -6.7% 1.1 15.5% 1.2 17.4% Chrysler 199.4 +4.3% 0.9 13.7% 0.9 13.7% Honda 145.4 +2.5% 0.6 9.2% 0.6 8.9% Nissan 93.1 +7.4 0.4 6.5% 0.4 6.4% Hyundai 43.9 +3.2 0.2 2.8% 0.2 2.8% Mazda 26.8 -2.0 0.1 1.9% 0.1 1.7% Kia 28.5 +7.5 0.1 1.9% 0.1 1.7% BMW 26.7 +8.1 0.1 1.8% 0.1 1.6%

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Top-selling vehicles in U.S. in May (in thousands)

Chevrolet Silverado PU : 63,790

Ford F-Series PU: 61,939

Toyota Camry | hybrid: 50,126

Toyota Corolla | Matrix: 45,238

Honda Civic | hybrid: 39,993

Chevrolet Impala: 35,665

Honda Accord | hybrid: 31,915

Dodge Ram PU: 31, 327

Toyota Prius: 24, 009

Nissan Altima | hybrid: 23,980

Source: Autodata

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