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Can Your Car Make You Sick?

Everyone takes pride in their cars, and wants to keep them clean. New evidence shows cars can be full of germs and make you sick.

But don’t let that squeaky clean look deceive you. Hitching on for a ride can be all sorts of bacteria, mold, viruses and dust mites. This can really make a difference during the flu and allergy seasons.

Jill Holdsworth is an infection preventionist and is president of the DC Metro Chapter of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology. She says the car can be a very big place to pass bacteria back and forth if you are not careful.

“The No. 1 hot spots would be anywhere that you touch with your hands,” Holdsworth said. These areas include the steering wheel, radio, gear shift, cup holders and car seats.

The number of germs in a car would astound anyone. Experts say it is important to have hand sanitizer and wipes in every car.

Read the full article here.

Increased Sales Tax in Japan will Drop Auto Demand

Japan has increased its sales tax for the first time in 17 years, which will greatly affect auto production.

Japanese auto deliveries will drop 16 percent in the year starting April 1 as a sales-tax increase damps demand, an industry group estimates.

Sales will probably fall to 4.75 million units in Japan, the world’s third-largest auto market, as the levy rises to 8 percent from the current 5 percent, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said in a statement today.

Japan’s first sale tax increase in 17 years, intended to help repay debt, is expected to dent consumption from cars to televisions, posing a challenge to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ambition to spur growth.

A rush of buying before the April 1 increase helped boost vehicle sales 15 percent from a year earlier in February, a sixth straight monthly increase.

Read the full article here.

A Cause For Celebration: Honda Produces Its 20 Millionth Vehicle

In 30 years, Honda has produced 20 million vehicles in the U.S.

Honda Motor Co. hit a U.S. milestone today by producing its 20 millionth vehicle since it began making cars in Ohio more than 30 years ago, the company said.

Honda’s plant in Marysville, Ohio, churned out its 10 millionth Accord sedan today, bringing cumulative production from Honda’s four U.S. vehicle assembly sites to 20 million units since it began producing cars in the United States in 1982.

Since becoming the first Japanese automaker to build a U.S. assembly plant, in Marysville, Honda has added assembly plants in East Liberty, Ohio; Lincoln, Ala., and Greensburg, Ind.

“We are deeply aware that our ability to reach this milestone results from the trust that 20 million customers have placed in our products, and we appreciate their support over the past three decades,” Hidenobu Iwata, CEO of Honda of America Manufacturing, said in a statement. “We also value the commitment made by tens of thousands of associates at Honda and our hundreds of suppliers in the U.S. who build products of the highest quality for our customers.”

Read the full article here.

The Ferrari Brand Gets Its Own Theme Park: Ferrari Land

Brand-loyalists and Ferrari enthusiasts will soon have a new place to visit.

Here’s one theme park where you can pretty much be sure there will be a car ride: Ferrari Land.

Ferrari is signed an agreement to build Ferrari Land at the PortAventura resort outside Barcelona.

When it opens in 2016, the park is expected to host 4 million visitors a year, half of them from outside Spain.

The park celebrates one of the world’s best-known performance car brands. Like the cars, the park will put a premium on speed. Ferrari says it will have one of Europe’s highest and fastest rides. A Ferrari-themed hotel will also be built.

Read the full article here.

Honda Announces Recall of its Odyssey Minivans

Once known for its safety and luxury, the Honda Odyssey is under recall. Honda Motor is recalling 886,815 Odyssey minivans in the U.S. for risk of fire from a fuel leak.

The recall covers 886,815 Odysseys from the 2005 to 2010 model years, according to documents posted Saturday on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration web site.

Honda reported that the cover on the fuel pump strainer can deteriorate and crack. It said that could lead to a fuel smell or to a leak that would pose a risk of fire. No crashes or fires have been reported, the company said.

Honda said it had indications of the problem in 2012 and initiated an investigation. It was determined that exposure to high temperatures and to acidic chemicals, such as those used in car washes, fertilizers and dust control agents, can cause premature deterioration of the cover, which is from supplier Denso.

Read the full article here.

Google makes auto industry allies to pave way for self-driving cars

It wasn’t long ago that the concept of a self-driving car seemed like something out of a science fiction film. Well, with the allies Google is making in the automotive industry, you may see self-driving cars on the streets in the not so distant future.

The Open Automotive Alliance that Google Inc. launched on Monday with a group of car companies will establish the Android operating system as a platform for apps in the connected car. The long-term  significance of the deal, however, may be as a milestone in Google’s effort to build a working relationship with car makers, a critical step toward bringing its self-driving car technology to market during the next few years.

Google has been road-testing a fleet of more than 20 self-driving Audi’s for the past few years, and has said the technology will be ready for the commercial market by 2017. However, the company has yet to elaborate on its business plan for products based on the technology, let alone strike a deal with a car manufacturer or supplier willing to incorporate the software into its systems. There were reports last summer that Google would strike a deal with German parts maker Continental AG and with International Business Machines Corp., but no announcement involving Google was made. There even was speculation that Google might hire a contract manufacturer to build a car.

Read more here.

Spacious 2014 GMC Acadia giving other family-oriented models a run for their money

A vehicular jack-of-all-trades, the 2014 GMC Acadia can handle it all. GMC’s family hauler is ideal for transporting your big brood to the lake or hauling a full load of provisions away from your local big box store. Large crossovers are good like that, combining much of the passenger- and cargo-hauling abilities of a minivan with the rugged good looks and (when equipped with all-wheel drive) the foul-weather capability of a traditional SUV. In this highly competitive segment, the Acadia stands as one of the best picks.

For 2014, the GMC Acadia sees just a few changes. All Acadias gain an additional pair of charge-only USB ports, while the Denali trim picks up standard forward collision alert and lane departure warning systems.

Read more here.

Honda ramps up vehicle lines for higher volumes of sales in North America

The Fit may be Honda’s smallest (and, starting at under $15k, most cost-effective) model, but it has never sold in quantities that even approach those of the brand’s larger offerings – at least not in the Canada or the United States. Where Honda typically sells hundreds of thousands of Civic and Accord models in North America – even CR-V crossovers and Odyssey minivans – annual sales for the Fit typically amount to tens of thousands. But the Japanese automaker hopes to expand its sales in the segment with the introduction of the new 2015 Honda Fit.

Having launched the all-new model several months ago in the Japanese Domestic Market, Honda is presenting the new Fit to the North American market here at the Detroit Auto Show. By and large, it’s the same model that will be sold around the world, having been redesigned with more aggressive styling, a larger footprint on the road and more interior space.

Read the full story here.

New, luxurious, and secure: Audi introduces new safety features

If there were ever a sedan that deserved the descriptor of “luxury,” surely it’s the Audi A8. Particularly in long-wheelbase form. But for many of Audi’s wealthy customers around the world – namely those in developing markets – there can be no greater luxury than security. And for just those customers, Audi has announced the new A8 L Security.

These new safety features include active lane assist, which tugs the steering to bring the car back into its lane if it drifts unintentionally across the lane markings. Also there are night-vision pedestrian detection and a fully featured head-up display. Blind-spot warning also continues as part of the A8 package.

In addition, you’ll also be able to ensure the safety of parked cars, since optional park assist will be available to steer the A8 into a parking slot.

Read the full story here.

Chrysler 200 Back On Track for 2015

Great little car, hope it makes the comeback they expect! It’s fair to say that Chrysler Corporation has been on a major perception upswing with its new products, but that rise has largely been centered around its trucks and utility vehicles – the car side has been somewhat left out. The outgoing 200 (previously skinned as the Sebring) never garnered any laurels, the Dart has suffered a rather cool reception both critically and in terms of sales, the second-gen 300 is a nice car yet it hasn’t sold as well as its predecessor, and even the mighty SRT Viper has had its V10 bark muted by the less costly and multi-talented Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Resurgent Chrysler could use a hit car, and the 2015 Chrysler 200 may just be it.

Read the full story here.