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Industry News Briefs

Motorists Looking to Keep Vehicles Longer
According to a recent vehicle maintenance survey commissioned by ExxonMobil, uncertain economic conditions have caused many motorists to reexamine the attitudes they hold about their vehicles, with an increasing number of people putting off the decision to purchase a new vehicle. Survey results indicate that 40 percent of respondents want to keep their vehicles for 150,000 miles or more (while 23 percent want to keep them for over 200,000 miles) and 37 percent plan to hold on to their vehicles longer than they planned at the time of purchase. Although a growing number of motorists are planning on keeping their vehicles for longer periods of time, few have adjusted their maintenance habits to accommodate the extra mileage. Only 21 percent of survey respondents follow their vehicle manufacturers’ maintenance recommendations, while only 11 percent use synthetic motor oils.

Transportation Spending
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) of the U.S. Department of Labor, transportation is second only to housing when it comes to annual consumer spending. The most recent BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey indicates that average annual spending on transportation increased 7 percent from 2004 to 2005, and 2percent from 2005 to 2006. Transportation spending includes vehicle purchases, finance charges, gasoline and motor oil, maintenance and repairs, insurance, public transportation and vehicle rental, leases, licenses and other charges. According to AAA, the cost of owning and operating a new vehicle is 54.1 cents per mile, an increase of 1.9 cents per mile over last year. “While the cost of some driving expenses declined since the start of 2007, higher gasoline prices have more than offset these savings and pushed the overall cost of vehicle ownership and operation higher this year,” said AAA director of public affairs Gail Weinholzer.

Toyota to Begin Requiring 0W-20 Synthetic Motor Oil in New Vehicles
Driven by increasingly stringent emission and fuel economy standards, Toyota has informed its dealers that the company will begin requiring SAE 0W-20 synthetic motor oils in new Toyota, Scion and Lexus vehicles over the next several years. Other OEMs are expected to follow suit by 2011. Among the benefi ts cited by Toyota are enhanced protection at high and low temperatures, improved fuel economy and reduced engine deposits. In addition, Toyota is reportedly studying increasing oil drain interval recommendations to 10,000 miles. AMSOIL 0W-20 Synthetic Motor Oil (ASM) is the superior choice among 0W-20 motor oils on the market, offering maximum power, performance and fuel economy and extended drain intervals of 25,000 miles or one year, whichever comes first.

Vehicle Owners Consider Maintenance a Top Priority
According to the recent 3M “Elbow Grease Economics” study, vehicle owners are placing a greater priority on vehicle maintenance than ever before. The study of 1,835 American car owners revealed the following: • Thirty percent consider keeping their current vehicles running, without performing or paying for a lot of repairs, their largest vehicle challenge. • Twenty-two percent consider improving fuel mileage a priority. • Twenty-fi ve percent pay more attention to vehicle maintenance now than they did two years ago. Eighteen percent of owners between the ages of 18 and 25 pay more attention to vehicle maintenance now than they did two years ago. • Female vehicle owners just as focused on their vehicles maintained as male vehicle owners, with 26 percent indicating their vehicles are one their biggest investments and 32 percent indicating they are taking better care of their vehicles because they can’t afford a new one.

Warning Labels for Obsolete Motor Oils
The National Conference on Weights and Measures has added a lubricant category to its Handbook 130, which serves as a prototype for states that regulate consumer products. It calls for warning labels on obsolete motor oil containers, as well as documentation of performance claims upon request. "This is basically something that can serve as a model regulation for states that want to address such problems," says Dennis Johannes, chairman of the conference's Laws and Regulation committee. The new rules automatically become law on January 1 in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and West Virginia, while other states are expected to soon adopt the regulations or develop their own.

More Vehicle Choices
There are currently more than 200 major automotive nameplates (discrete car and truck lines) on sale in the United States, and the number is expected to continue rising over the next five years. According to AutoPacific Inc, launching and establishing a new vehicle line is more difficult and expensive than ever, requiring billions of dollars to develop, manufacture and merchandise. Yet, auto industry analysts expect 50 new nameplates will be introduced by 2009. Sales are not increasing quite as quickly, with AutoPacific predicting total sales rising from 16.6 million units now, to 18 million in 2009. "It is not surprising that cutting through this clutter of products and messages is almost insurmountable to all but a small few," says AutoPacific Inc.

Vehicle Maintenance Becomes Bigger Priority
The Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA) reports that neglected automotive maintenance dropped from $62 billion to $43.3 billion in 2003. According to AASA director of market research Frank Hampshire, the drop can be attributed to increased consumer interest in maintenance due to uncertainty about future economic conditions, as well as a high rate of new vehicle sales that took many maintainable vehicles off the road. "When money is the only issue, car owners will neglect vehicle maintenance," says Hampshire. "When their job or economic future is uncertain, consumers will maintain their cars to protect their investment and to make sure the vehicle remains in good running condition." Of the $43.3 billion in neglected maintenance, tires and shocks/struts represent the largest product segments.

Hybrids Experience Engine Problems
According to the J D Power & Associates 2004 Vehicle Dependability Study, diesel and gasoline electric hybrid vehicles have more engine problems than their gasoline-powered counterparts. The study surveyed over 45,000 owners of 2001 model year vehicles in the areas of malfunction, NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness), drivability, dependability, and safety. Owners of Toyota Prius and Honda Insight hybrid vehicles, and Volkswagen diesel vehicles reported twice as many problems as owners of the corresponding gasoline models, with the most common problems related to engine computers and emissions-control systems. Because hybrid vehicles weren't introduced until 1999, a J D Powers executive suggests the problems were likely due to quirks that weren't worked out yet by the 2001 model year.

RV Sales Strong
Despite recent spikes in the prices of gasoline and diesel fuel, Winnebago Industries, Inc is reporting record revenues from motorhome sales, with its profits nearly doubling in its third fiscal quarter. "We continue to believe the long-term prospects remain extremely positive for Winnebago and our industry." says company chairman, president, and CEO Bruce Hertzke. "Economic factors have improved since last year at this time. Fuel prices have stabilized and it appears consumer confidence has begun to rise." According to Hertzke, Winnebago's redesigned diesel vehicles, the Winnebago Journey and Vectra, and the Itasca Meridian and Horizon, are largely responsible for the company's large increase in diesel-motorhome shipments.

Natural Gas Powered Garbage Trucks
The environmental group Inform reports that an increasing number of US cities are switching their garbage trucks from diesel to natural gas, with approximately 1,500 of the nation's 136,000 garbage trucks currently powered by natural gas. "Replacing diesel fuel-powered trucks with trucks powered by natural gas is a tremendous opportunity, not only for cleaner air and quieter neighborhoods, but also for reducing reliance on a fuel coming from risky and unreliable foreign sources," said Inform president Joanna Underwood.

Diesel Owners Report Excellent Fuel Efficiency
According to the EPA's "Your MPG" database, diesel vehicle owners are reporting 4.3% greater fuel efficiency than indicated on their vehicle window stickers. The data was collected from 221 diesel drivers who calculated their own fuel economy and report it to an internet database. Gasoline vehicles owners, on the other hand, reported 1.4% to 1.7% decreased fuel economy compared to the window sticker, while hybrid owners reported 8% decreased fuel economy. "It's long been known that diesel is the most fuel efficient internal combustion engine ever produced, typically providing 20 - 40% greater fuel efficiency than other technologies," said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum.

5W-20 Oil Increases Fuel Economy
Ford Motor Company reports that the company's switch from recommending 5W-30 viscosity motor oil to 5W-20 viscosity motor oil has saved 700 million gallons of gasoline since 2001. By reducing load and internal friction, lighter viscosity 5W-20 motor oils reportedly increase fuel economy by a half-mile per gallon. In addition, Ford reports its use of 5W-20 oils has reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about one million metric tons per year. AMSOIL 0W-20 Synthetic Motor OIl (ASM) and XL 5W-20 Synthetic Motor Oil (XLM) deliver outstanding fuel efficiency and superior wear protection over competing synthetic and conventional motor oils.

Buell to Introduce Off-Road Motorcycles
Within the next two years, Buell Motorcycle Company plans to introduce off-road motorcycles designed for closed-course competition. "Harley-Davidson and buell are highly committed to braodening the range of products we offer and reaching out to new groups of customers," said Buell President and Chief Operating Officer Jon Flickenger. "We're always looking at new market opportunities, but this one is particularly exciting."

Dual Remote Filtration System Ideal for Off-Roaders
A July 2007 4-Wheel and Off-Road article by feature editor Jerrod Jones entitled "Fantastic Filtration" recommends 4x4 enthusiasts use remote mount oil filtration systems in their off-road vehicles in order to extend engine life and oil drain intervals. Jones specifically expresses his satisfaction with the AMSOIL Dual Remote Filtration System recommended by the Dyno Shop in Santee, CA and includes pictures and instructions for installing it.

Tonneau Covers and Fuel Economy
In order to determine the effect truck tonneau covers have on drag and fuel economy, SEMA recently conducted wind tunnel tests on 13 different tonneaus from nine different manufacturers. Test results indicated the tonneaus improved drag coefficient by an average of 5.73 percent. "Other tests would need to be conducted in order to determine the exact effect on fuel economy", wrote Megan McKernan of SEMA. "Aerodynamicists often say that a 10 percent improvement in aerodynamic performance is good for a 2 to 3 percent improvement in gas mileage, based on an EPA road speed of 48 mph. Therefore, an improvement in Cd of 5.73 percent should account for a 1.8 percent improvement in gas mileage."

Hot Running HD Twin Cam 96 Engines
Harley-Davidson has recently acknowledged that its Twin Cam 96 engine tends to operate at higher temperatures. In particular, owners of 2007 Ultra Classic Electra Glide motorcycles have noticed an excessive level of heat radiating from the engine. This model has fairing lowers that obstruct some of the cooling air that would usually cool the rider's legs at slower speeds. In addition, the Twin Cam 96 engine operates at higher temperatures than the Twin Cam 88 engine because it has almost 10 percent more displacement and because it is calibrated to run a leaner fuel-air mixture to meet exhaust emission standards, often elevating engine heat at slow riding speeds when little air is flowing around the bike.

Hybrid Scooters On the Way
Piaggio SpA recently announced plans to launch a gas-electric hybrid scooter model in congested cities. "The hybrid can represent a very important reply to the problems of traffic, safety and pollution," said Piaggio SpA Chairman Roberto Colaninno. "The hybrid generates synergies from the two motors, using electronic systems. "Equipped with a 125cc gas engine, the planned model is based on the Piaggio three-wheeled MP3 scooter and is expected to achieve 169 mpg. A lithium battery is used to power the electric motor, and it can be recharged either at the owner's home or through the gas engine when it is running. According to officials, lithium batteries are lighter than conventional lead batteries and can be recharged several thousand times.

Aftetmarket Continues to Grow
According to the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association (AASA), the value of the light vehicle aftermarket is expected to surpass $200 billion within the next few years. After reaching $185.2 billion in 2006, the market is expected to approach $193 billion by the end of 2007. As in years past, vehicles over 10 years old made up the largest percentage of dollars spent, equating to $80.8 billion in 2006. The segment of vehicles six years old and older is expected to continue growing at a steady pace, while vehicles five years old and newer are projected to peak this year before declining to below $45 billion in 2010.

Bosch and Getrag Introduce Hybrid Drivetrain Concept
Bosch and German transmission maker Getrag recently developed and unveiled a new hybrid drivetrain concept featuring a dry dual-clutch transmission linked to an electric rear axle. The hybrid systems incorporate Getrag six-speed PowerShift transmissions and Bosch electrical architecture for the alternator, electric drive system and power electronics. According to Getrag, the systems feature lighter and less complex electric components, with many parts in common to the PowerShift transmissions in non-hybrid powertrains.

Increased Efficiency with MEHF Hydraulic Fluids
Research performed by RohMax demonstrates that use of Maximum Efficiency Hydraulic Fluids yields significant efficiency improvement over use of conventional hydraulic fluids. Analysis of hydraulic fluid behavior in a pump circuit showed use of the higher viscosity, shear stable hydraulic fluids could increase output without increasing fuel consumption. Mathematical models, lab scale testing and full-scale equipment trials demonstrated efficiency improvement of more than 18 percent with MEHF fluids compared to conventional grades, translating into an 18 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and an 18 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. AMSOIL Synthetic Anti-Wear Hydraulic Oils are MEHF fluids, effectively increasing hydraulic system efficiency and lowering costs.

Major Improvements to AMSOL By-Pass Filter Mounts
AMSOIL has remained a leader in the lubricants industry by continually researching new and emerging technologies and reformulating its products to incorporate those technologies. AMSOIL filtration products are no exception. Following months of research, the new AMSOIL by-pass systems ensure maximum protection without sacrificing oil pressure. They provide better oil flow, a modernized appearance and come with larger hoses and fittings. The new kits provide improved sealing and feature spin-on adapters that are easier to install. The new by-pass kits provide unbeatable ultrafine filtration protection and are made with the high-quality AMSOIL Ea Filters in mind.


FuelMax Provides Refunds
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has determined that the marketers of FuelMax, a magnetic "fuel saving" system, made deceptive claims about the product's ability to improve fuel efficiency and reduce emissions. Although FuelMax marketers denied the charges, they paid $4.2 million to settle with the FTC and are banned from further manufacture, advertising and sale of the product. Consumers who purchased the product have until June18, 2008 to request a refund by completing and mailing the appropriate claim form, available download at www.FuelMaxLitigation.com or by calling 1-800-356-4638.

Increased Synthetic Demand
According to a new study by consulting firm Kline and Co., synthetic and semi-synthetic lubricants comprised 9.7 percent of global lubricants demand in 2007, and demand is projected to continue rising for at least the next decade. Global synthetic lubricant demand is expected to increase by 7 percent annually until 2017, while semi-synthetic demand is expected to rise 4 percent annually until 2017. George Morvey, Kline project manager of energy, reports that synthetics and semi-synthetics represent around 15 percent of total consumer engine oil in the United States. While decreased emissions and improved fuel economy are two of the main drivers fueling the increased demand, OEM recommendations and extended warranties that require use of synthetics are expected to be among the top drivers in the future.






Small Vehicle Sales on the Rise
High gas prices have prompted many consumers to purchase smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. In fact, according to SEMA, small vehicle sales increased 11.4 percent during the first six months of 2008. The following are the 20 top-selling small cars in descending order: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Chevrolet Cobalt, Toyota Prius, Toyota Yaris, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Dodge Caliber, Nissan Sentra, Volkswagen Jetta, Nissan Versa, Kia Spectra, Honda Fit, Chevrolet Aveo, Hyunda Accent, MINI Cooper, Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe and Kia Rio.

Gas Prices Fuel Strong Growth in Sport Bike Market
New riders, including an increasing number of Generation Y and female riders, are driving up sport bike sales. Lower displacement sport bikes have been particularly popular, with many manufacturers and dealerships seeing their sales spike in recent months. According to Tony Chatman, owner of Chatman Cycle in Seattle, WA, "There are more new riders coming into my dealership than ever before, and they don't want to spend the extra money for higher-powered bikes. But more importantly, most of them are pretty inexperienced and want a bike they can grow with, and possibly trade in later they're ready to step to another level."

 
 
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