31st May 2011

Manufacturing Troubles Remain a Drag on Recovery, Trade & Jobs


via The Seattle Times

by Jon Talton

Top of the News: The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index seems consistent with recovery, coming in at 53.6 for November; any number above 50 signifies expansion in the sector. Unfortunately, the reading sagged from 55.7 the month before, tripping up what economists had hoped would be a steady climb out of recession.

A deeper look shows that the index provides no relief for the biggest immediate problem facing Americans, unemployment. Only six of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in employment. Only 11.7 million Americans worked manufacturing as of October. That compares with 17.3 million in October 1999.

Not only do manufacturing jobs pay better than their counterparts in service industries, they tend to add real value to economic activity (as opposed to selling mortgage swindles). They are also twined with our trade issues. Even fewer manufacturing jobs are now in industries that export, a key part of our huge manufacturing trade deficit.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon was happening even before the Great Recession. A report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that manufacturing employment between 1965 and 2000 never dipped below 16.5 million. This even as manufacturing shrank as a share of the economy (take out Boeing and it would be much smaller). This changed as imports surged after China joined the WTO and other Asian factory centers upped their game. By 2004, the number was lower than any time since 1950.

“It is often claimed that declines in manufacturing employment stem entirely from productivity growth,” according to EPI economist L. Josh Bivens. “However, rapid productivity growth is the norm, not the exception, in manufacturing. What is new about the manufacturing job crisis of the last four years is the sharp downturn in the ratio of domestic production to demand.”

Indeed, American steelmakers are shrinking yet again.

The Back Story: The official unemployment rate including discouraged workers and part-timers seeking full-time work is 17.5 percent. But Shadow Government Statistics, a provocative and reliable site, argues even this underestimates the problem. Try…22 percent.

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31st May 2011

Wrong-Way Drivers Get Some Help From Toyota

TOYOTA CITY, Japan — Toyota is adding a wrong-way driving alert to its optional navigation systems sold in Japan starting tomorrow, with the technology expected to make its way to the U.S. at some point.

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31st May 2011

All-New 2012 Honda Civic Sedan Receives IIHS TOP SAFETY PICK Award

The all-new, redesigned 2012 Honda Civic sedan models have just received the highest possible safety rating of TOP SAFETY PICK from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) under its more-stringent testing guidelines implemented this year, American Honda Motor Co., Inc., announced today.

The IIHS award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting vehicle occupants involved in front, side and rear crashes, plus rollover performance based on ratings in the Institute’s tests. All TOP SAFETY PICK vehicles must also include a standard electronic stability control system. The Civic earned the highest-possible score of GOOD in all four ratings, including the more rigorous roof-strength test.

Available since April 20, the 2012 Civic represents another important milestone for Honda’s best-selling compact vehicle, and reconfirms the company’s commitment to excellence with efficient i-VTEC 4-cylinder engine technologies for economy and performance, along with an engaging driving experience and advanced standard safety features.

All 2012 Civic vehicles utilize the Advanced Compatibility Engineering™ (ACE™) body structure. ACE is an exclusive body design that enhances occupant protection and crash compatibility in frontal crashes. The ACE design utilizes a network of connected structural elements to distribute crash energy more evenly throughout the front of the vehicle. This enhanced frontal crash energy management helps to reduce the forces transferred to the passenger compartment. Standard safety equipment includes Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®) with traction control; an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS); side curtain airbags; dual-stage, multiple-threshold front airbags; a driver’s front side airbag; and a front passenger’s side airbag with an occupant position detection system.

The ninth-generation 2012 Civic introduces a sleeker style and higher fuel-efficiency than the previous generation. The Civic range consists of sedans and coupes powered by conventional gasoline, high-performance, hybrid, and compressed natural gas engine choices. Technology and features new to the Civic include an available “intelligent” Multi-Information Display (i-MID), an available Eco Assist™ system and a new Motion-Adaptive Electronic Power Steering (EPS) system that works in conjunction with Vehicle Stability Assist™ (VSA®); VSA and EPS are included as standard equipment on all models. All Civic models achieve higher EPA fuel economy ratings1 compared to the 2011 models, up by as much as 8 percent on the highway in Civic Sedans and Coupes equipped with automatic transmissions.

For 2012, the Civic Sedan and Coupe continue to be available in trim level choices of Civic DX (basic features), LX (popular features), EX (full features) and EX-L (luxury features). The new i-MID on Civic LX-and-above models provides a convenient platform for integration of vehicle information and compatible personal electronics with a driver-oriented 5-inch color LCD display and intuitive steering wheel controls. All 2012 Civic models, except the Civic Si, receive Eco Assist™ technology, an innovation that can enhance efficient vehicle operation at the touch of a button while also providing visual feedback to promote or confirm an efficient driving style.

With the best city, highway and combined EPA-estimated fuel economy rating1 for any currently available four-door sedan (44 mpg), the Civic Hybrid introduces the latest generation of the fuel-efficient Integrated Motor Assist (IMA®) system – now with a lithium-ion battery for the first time on a Honda hybrid vehicle. Plus, an entirely new model, the Civic HF, debuts as a value-oriented, high fuel-economy sedan with the best highway fuel economy rating1 (41 mpg) for a conventional, gasoline-only powered vehicle with an automatic transmission. The performance enthusiast-inspired Civic Si Coupe and Civic Si Sedan, each with a larger 2.4-liter engine with 201 horsepower and 22 percent more peak torque than before, debut as the most powerful production Civic Si models ever introduced. The Civic Natural Gas (previously named Civic GX) remains the only manufacturer-built, natural gas-powered car currently available in the United States.

Connect with Honda:
Honda Media Newsroom (for journalists): www.hondanews.com
Honda Civic for consumers: www.automobiles.honda.com/Civic
Honda on YouTube: www.youtube.com/honda
Honda on Flickr: www.flickr.com/hondanews
Honda on Twitter: www.twitter.com/honda
Honda on Facebook: http://facebook.com/honda
Honda Civic on Facebook: http://facebook.com/hondacivic

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31st May 2011

2012 Hyundai Genesis


The pricing for the 2012 Hyundai Genesis has officially been set at $34,200, not including $850 for delivery. The facelifted Genesis four-door sedan was unveiled at the 2011 Chicago Auto Show.

The base Genesis 3.8 sedan, which now uses a direct-injected 3.8-liter V6, rated at 333 horsepower and 291 pound-feet of torque – gains of 43 and 27, respectively, versus the 2011 model. A new eight-speed automatic transmission is also on tap, meaning the Genesis 3.8 will achieve up to 29 miles per gallon on the highway.

Next car in the range, the Genesis 4.6 – $44,500 – also gets an eight-speed automatic transmission, though its V8 engine remains largely unchanged. Power ratings carry over from 2011 – 385 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque.

The 4.6 used to be the range-topping Genesis, but for 2012, Hyundai has introduced the new 5.0 R-Spec model, which, as its name suggests, is fitted with the automaker’s brand new 5.0-liter direct-injected V8. Paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Tau 5.0 is good for 429 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque, while still returning 16/25 mpg city/highway. The R-Spec model also features unique 19-inch wheels, sportier suspension tuning and more aggressive appearance updates. The top-shelf Genesis retails for $46,500.

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31st May 2011

Fiat Tells Feds It Wants to Buy Out Chrysler Stake

It’s been a very busy week for Fiat and Chrysler. For Fiat, it paid $1.3 billion for a 16% stake in Chrysler, which on Tuesday paid back the remaining $7.5 billion it owed the U.S. and Canadian governments. Today, Fiat told the U.S. Treasury it wants an option to buy the remaining 6 percent stake that the U.S. government holds in Chrysler. That purchase, should it happen, would bump Fiat to 52% ownership in Chrysler LLC and end the U.S. government’s ownership of Chrysler.

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30th May 2011

American Way-O-Life Mandates Alky Front-Engined Dragsters For All Suburban Barbecue Parties


Does your Memorial Day barbecue feature a blown alcohol-burning dragster roaring to life in the driveway as your guests chow down on burgers and dogs?

That’s how Memorial Day celebrations are done in Denver! I met up with a few LeMons racers getting into the right frame of mind for the B.F.E. GP in July, as they helped bring the vintage drag racer back to life for the ’11 racing season.

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