competes in as many North American racing series as Chevrolet, and
the brand uses that to connect with customers and improve its cars
in ways that arenít always obvious, said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet
vice president of performance vehicles and motor sports.
introduce two new performance cars ó the SS sedan and Corvette
Stingray ó this year, and an updated version of the Camaro. All
three models compete in racing series. After a period when racing
seemed divorced from the cars most automakers sell, demands for
lightweight vehicles and more efficient engines that combine
performance and fuel economy are bringing street and track closer
together, Campbell said.
rotate engineers from our production vehicles to the racing programs
and back," he said. A few years ago, Matthew Wiles went from
working on direct fuel-injection systems for GMís street cars to
developing the turbocharged, direct-injection engines used in Indy
expertise helped lead to manufacturerís and driverís
championships for us last year," Campbell said.
Direct-injection, turbocharged engines also play a large role in GM
vehicles ranging from the subcompact Chevrolet Sonic to the upcoming
2014 Cadillac CTS luxury sedan. Weight-saving techniques and
aerodynamics also transfer from race programs to production cars.
is a wonderful way to train engineers to move very quickly,"
Campbell said. "Every seven to 14 days, the green flag drops,
whether youíre ready or not. They learn to solve problems
MONTH: Keep an eye on Nissan. Traditionally the third-seller among
Japanese brands, the automakerís Altima was Americaís
best-selling midsize sedan last month and displaced Honda.
high expectations for 2013. The Versa Note subcompact hatchback
joins the lineup soon, and a new version of the Rogue crossover
arrives in the fourth quarter.
37,763 sales beat the perennially top-selling Toyota Camry. The last
time that happened was May 2011, when Japanís tsunami crippled
Toyota production. Nissan also outsold Honda last month ó 126,623
to 121,938 ó the first time thatís happened since it was
clearing out the last-generation Altima a year ago.
"It was a
great month. We even surprised ourselves," said Jose Munoz,
Nissan Americas senior vice president of marketing and sales.
"We didnít expect the Altima to be the No. 1 car in
significant achievement, but Nissan is overly dependent on the
Altima, said Edmunds.com senior analyst Michelle Krebs. "It
accounts for a huge proportion of their sales. Theyíve got to
spread their sales over more vehicles."
several new models to achieve that. The Pathfinder, which switched
from an off-road-oriented SUV to more fuel-efficient crossover last
fall, is selling at nearly triple the old modelís rate.
in the heart of the segment" with the new Pathfinder, which
competes with vehicles like Ford Explorer, Chevy Traverse, Honda
Pilot and Toyota Highlander, Munoz said. "Youíre going to see
greater consistency from us in terms of attacking the heart of the
market. The new Rogue and Versa Note both target it."
PLUG-IN HYBRID SAVE YOU MONEY? A new website lets buyers calculate
their fuel costs with a variety of plug-in hybrids. "My Plug-in
Hybrid Calculator," created by the U.S. Department of Energy,
lets you tailor results to any plug-in on the market and your
personal driving needs.
most cost-effective vehicle is no longer a simple matter of high
miles per gallon equals low cost, because plug-in hybridsí
cruising ranges vary greatly depending on battery size.
if you drive 30 miles a day and 12,000 miles a year, gasoline and
electricity for a Ford C-Max hybrid would cost you $690 if you had a
charger at home, but not at work. A 220-volt charger at work would
cut that to $558. But if you drive 70 miles a day, 12,000 miles a
year and have no charger at work, your total cost rises to $872 and
your gas consumption would more than quintuple from 37 gallons to
You can find
the calculator under the "Advanced Vehicles and Fuels" tab