Auto News for Aug. 26

American Customer Satisfaction Index Logo

Sixteen of 21 nameplates in the auto industry saw a decline in customer satisfaction in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index. The offshoot of the University of Michigan said two domestic brands showed improvements – Chevy rose 4 percent, Buick was up 1 percent. ACS said customer satisfaction was off two percent at Mercedes but it still leads the industry followed by Subaru, Lexus, and Volkswagen. ACSI said two things stand out – the gap between domestic and imported brands has narrowed due to a weakening of the latter’s customer satisfaction. Yet six of the top seven finishers in the study are still imports. The other note of interest is that several luxury brands did poorly with Cadillac, for instance, down six percent.

Consumer Reports has crowned the Ram Eco diesel as the best pickup, saying it outscored the Ford F-150 and the Chevy Silverado in its testing. The magazine cited the Ram’s 20 mpg fuel economy as one of the main reasons for its top of the heap showing.

CR also named the Toyota Highlander as the best Sport Utility, also for its fuel economy (25 mpg) and its towing capacity.

The GM Tech center in Warren, Michigan is a big place – 61 buildings spread out over 330 acres. To help workers get around the General is implementing a bike sharing program. That will be in addition to walking, driving and shuttle buses. One engineer called it an “awesome idea.”

The states blame staffing levels and workload issues. Yet the Transportation Department says states have not spent $530 million worth of grants aimed at improving highway safety. The Detroit News reports states have three years to use the grants, but don’t always meet the deadlines for programs to discourage DWI’s, and promote seat belt usage among other items.

Ford will create 300 new jobs and invest $129 million in its Louisville assembly plant as it ramps up production of the 2015 Lincoln MKC. It is the first small utility vehicle from Lincoln, and is based on the Ford Escape.

Sebastian Vettel is the first Formula One drive to lap the newly completed Sochi Autodrom in Russia. The track, in Kradnodar Krai, will host the inaugural Russian Grand Prix in October. Vettel took to the new track in an Infiniti Q50 hybrid.

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