Better World Club

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

fus•ion hy•brid [fyoo-zhuhn hahy-brid]


1. the act or process of fusing the hitherto-contradictory concepts of "Ford Motor Company" and "cutting-edge environmental technology".

Yes, Toyota and Honda have been producing mainstream hybrid electric vehicles for years now, and much has been written about GM's upcoming Volt. Now and seemingly out of nowhere, Ford has shown itself to be a high-mileage player with its upcoming Fusion Hybrid.

The Fusion Hybrid is labeled with a 2010 model year but will be available in showrooms in the spring of this year. It competes in the same class as the Toyota Camry Hybrid, but beats the latter in mpg (41/36 versus 33/34) and aesthetics (the Camry Hybrid is just plain dowdy, like your aunt who collects egg cups and wears sweatshirts with photos of her Yorkshire terriers on them).

The Fusion Hybrid represents a solid first attempt at a mainstream hybrid sedan and should give Toyota a run for its money. Though, it's being marketed as a 2010 model, it will actually be available in showrooms in the spring of 2009.

Things People Like About The Fusion Hybrid:

- An American automaker has actually produced a mainstream hybrid-electric sedan for sale to Americans! What a concept!
- The best fuel efficiency in its class: 41/36 city/hwy mpg.
- An LCD dash display coaches drivers on how to conserve fuel while they drive.
- Acceleration up to 47 mph using the electric battery alone.

Things People Don't Like About The Fusion Hybrid:

- The rear end needs a redesign. (I hear you, Sister!)
- Interior styling could be updated.

Quick Stats:

MSRP: $27,270
Fuel Economy: 41/36 city/hwy
Basic Warranty: 36 months/36,000 miles (average: 42 months/43,068 miles)
Torque: 136 lb-ft (average: 224.62 lb-ft)
Standard Engine: 2.5L I4

Hybrid Tax Credit Information:

The Fusion Hybrid qualifies for a hybrid tax credit of $3,400, subject to phase-out.

Recall Info:

None yet.

NHTSA Safety Info:

Frontal Driver Rating: Not Tested
Frontal Passenger Rating: Not Tested
Side Driver Rating: 5 Stars
Side Rear Passenger Rating: 4 Stars
Rollover 2 Wheel Drive Rating: 4 Stars
Rollover 4 Wheel Drive Rating: 5 Stars

[The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) rates vehicles of all makes and models to determine their crash and rollover safety. Our ratings are created with data gathered during controlled crash and rollover tests. Vehicles with the highest ratings receive a 5-Star Rating.]

Warranty Info:

Basic (mo.): 36
Basic (mi.): 36,000
Powertrain (mo.): 60
Powertrain (mi.): 60,000
Rust (mo.): 60
Rust (mi.): Unlimited

Really Long List of Standard Features:

- Power Door Locks
- Child Safety Door Locks Located On Rear Doors
- Vehicle Anti-Theft Via Alarm, SecuriLock(TM) Engine Immobilizer and Exterior Monitoring
- Electronic Brake Force Distribution
- Traction Control Controlled By ABS
- 4-Wheel Anti-Lock Brakes
- AdvanceTrac(TM) Vehicle Stability Control System
- Regenerative Braking System
- Front Power Vented Disc and Rear Power Solid Disc Brakes
- Battery Saver
- 275-Volt Sealed Nickel-Metal Hydride Battery
- 2 Front Power Outlets, 1 With 110-Volt Inverter
- Audio and Navigation Pre-Wiring
- EasyFuel(TM) Capless Fuel Filler
- SULEV Emissions, AT-PZEV Emissions
- Hybrid 2.5-Liter Atkinson Cycle, I4, 16-Valve, DOHC, Sefi Engine; Front Mounted With Horsepower Of 156@6000, Torque Of 136@2250, Alloy Block and Alloy Cylinder Head; Permanent Magnet Electric Motor With Horsepower Of 106@6500 (Hybrid System Net Horsepower Of 191)
- SYNC(R) Telematics Includes Automatic Collision Notification, 911 Assist(TM) Emergency Response, Vehicle Diagnostics and Vehicle Service Reminders (Requires Paired Wireless Enabled Phone)
- SYNC(TM) Wireless Communication Access For Bluetooth(R) Enabled Devices
- Radio Antenna
- Front Auxiliary Audio Input Jack
- AM/FM Radio With 6 Speakers Total; 6-Disc CD Changer; MP3 Player; Sirius(R) Satellite Radio (Includes 6 Months Of Service, Unavailable In Hawaii and Alaska)
- Perimeter Lighting Located On Exterior Mirrors
- Front Foglights
- Quad Halogen Headlights
- Automatic Headlights
- Front Air Dam
- Front and Rear Body Color Bumpers
- Metallic Paint (If Selected)
- Chrome Located On Exhaust Pipes
- Chrome Grille
- Separate Driver/Front Passenger Climate Controls
- Automatic Climate Control
- Interior Air Filter
- Digital Clock
- Steering Wheel Mounted Controls For Audio and Cruise Control
- Compass
- Tire Pressure Monitor
- Maintenance Interval Indicator
- SYNC(TM) Voice Activated Controls For Phone, Audio and Bluetooth(R) Wireless Enabled Devices
- Trip Computer With Average Fuel Consumption, Miles To Empty, Instantaneous Fuel Consumption and Trip Odometer
- Cruise Control
- Tachometer
- Ambient Lighting
- Illuminated Entry
- Front and Rear Map Lights
- Rear Carpeted Floor Mats
- Unique Color-Keyed Trim Located On Center Floor Console and Instrument Panel
- Leather Located On Shift Knob
- Front Carpeted Floor Mats
- Carpet Located In Passenger Cabin and Trunk
- Leather Steering Wheel
- Keyless Entry Operated Via Key Fob and SecuriCode(TM) Door Pad
- Remote Trunk Release Located Inside Vehicle and On Multi-Function Remote
- Multi-Function Remote Operates Anti-Theft, Door Lock/Unlock, Illuminated Entry, Trunk and Perimeter Lighting
- Driver Airbag With Dual Stage Deployment
- Front and Rear Pretensioners With Force Limiters
- Rear Electronic Parking Aid With Ultrasonic Sensors
- Trunk Anti-Trap Device
- Side Guard Door Beams
- Passenger Airbag With Dual Stage Deployment
- Front and Rear Side Head Curtain Airbags
- Front Side Airbags
- Rear 3-Point Center Seatbelt
- Crumple Zones
- SYNC(R) Crash Sensor Sends GPS Signal (Requires Paired Wireless Enabled Phone)
- Personal Safety System(TM) Includes Pretensioners With Load Limiters, Driver Airbag With Dual Stage Deployment, Passenger Airbag With Dual Stage Deployment, Front Passenger Seat Position Sensor and Crash Sensor
- Front and Rear Outboard 3-Point Seatbelts
- Front and Rear Automatic Locking Retractors
- Passenger Airbag Cutoff Sensor Activated By Seatbelt Engagement or Weight
- Driver Manual Lumbar Support
- Front Dual Reclining Folding Bucket Seats With Driver Adjustable Seat Height and Headrests
- Front Passenger Power Seat Adjusts 6 Ways Total
- Cloth Seats
- Rear 60/40 Split Bench Seat With Manually Adjustable Headrests and Fold-Down Armrest
- Driver Power Seat Adjusts 8 Ways Total
- Power Rack and Pinion Variable Assisted Steering
- Telescopic Steering Column
- Tilt Steering Column
- Glovebox
- Front Covered Lower Console Storage Located On Floor
- Front Dual Seatback Storage Pockets
- 4 Front and 2 Rear; 6 Cupholders Total
- Independent Wishbone Front Suspension With Coil Springs and Gas Shock Absorbers
- Front Stabilizer Bar
- Rear Stabilizer Bar
- Independent Multi-Link Rear Suspension With Coil Springs and Gas Shock Absorbers
- Aisin Continuously Variable Electronically Controlled Automatic Transmission With Overdrive
- Alloy Wheels, 17-In. X 7.5-In.
- SBRP225/50VR17 BSW All-Season Tires
- Compact Spare Tire
- Electrochromic Interior Rearview Mirror
- Vehicle Speed Sensitive Intermittent Windshield Wipers
- Front Dual Illuminated Vanity Mirrors
- Rear Window Defroster
- Tinted Glass
- Dual Body Color Folding Power Adjustable Heated Exterior Rearview Mirrors
- Front Dual Sunvisors
- Power Window Lockout
- Power Windows With Driver One-Touch Up and One-Touch Down

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Don't Give the Big 3 Automakers Federal Money

Give It To U.S. Consumers As A Warranty

But What do We Know? After All, We've Been Advising Automakers to Build Smaller, More Fuel-Efficient Cars for the Past Six Years

The Big 3 Automakers reject bankruptcy, warning that consumers will not want to buy new cars from bankrupt automakers for fear that repairs would not be forthcoming.

Fair enough. So, what if the government guaranteed warranties for car buyers? The federal government, through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), has been guaranteeing bank deposits since 1933. It could do the same with auto warranties. This, in fact, should cost the government far, far less money than continually throwing bailout billions at Detroit.

With the Big 3's sales dropping by 50% (from over 7 million units toward 3 million), we're looking at less than $1.5 billion annually for these warranties. Five years of these warranties on every car sold would be less than $8 billion, while GM alone is looking to receive more than $30 billion. And, at some point, the car companies should be recovered enough to pick up--or drop--this expense.

It's hard to see how GM, and perhaps Chrysler, can succeed without bankruptcy. Much attention has been focused on their labor union relationships, but auto manufacturers are locked into any number of business relationships that are keeping them from returning to profitability (e.g. the exclusive local franchise system that makes little sense in the age of the internet).

All of this needs to be reviewed by an independent third party -- say a bankruptcy court -- which can assure that all stakeholders in these companies make adequate sacrifices to enable these companies to be financially viable.

Lack of consumer confidence has made our country's financial crisis even worse--and yet the vast majority of resources have been aimed at corporations rather than consumers. Guaranteeing warranties for bankrupt automakers would be a relatively inexpensive way to bolster confidence, boost sales, and speed the American auto industry on the road to recovery.

And it shouldn't stop there. The purchasing power of government has been recognized by the Obama Administration--and ridiculed by the opposition party. (LA Governor Bobby Jindal singled out federal auto purchases for criticism in his response to the President's speech to Congress). Governments at all levels should use this opportunity to purchase (needed) green vehicles.

And consumers should be given further incentives to buy. Auto sales have dropped to the lowest level in decades. Recovery will only come with sales, not government dollars. Perhaps, high mileage car buyers could receive a "super" warranty in recognition that these cars are setting the stage for technology breakthroughs to come.

Maybe these "super warranties" could include roadside assistance, say, from Better World Club, the nation's only eco-friendly auto cl...Wait, we're getting carried away here. This isn't about Better World Club.

It's about getting the Big 3 healthy again. Federal warranties could be the most cost-effective route to that goal.

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