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Premium brands have the happiest customers

Does it matter to you how happy other people are with their cars and trucks? Marketing experts often say that word-of-mouth endorsement from those in our social circles are more influential than advertising. It makes sense. So, perhaps the somewhat surprising findings of a new study on customer satisfaction might influence your thinking. It is based, after all on surveys filled out by car owners about how happy they are with their cars.

Australia's recently seated prime minister, Julia Gillard, is just now talking about a "cash for clunkers' program when most other countries ended theirs ages ago. Yet for Gillard, the program isn't about stimulating car sales but rather about stimulating the Earth: Gillard wants to get about ten percent of Oz's two million pre-1995 vehicles off the roads.

A new study by R.L. Polk & Co. finds that more Americans scrapped their old vehicles than bought new ones, even during the height of the Cash for Clunkers program. The study took place over a 15-month period ending last September. During that time, a total of 14.8 million vehicles were scrapped in the U.S., while just 13.6 million new registrations were issued. The report said that U.S. scrap rates had risen to 6.9 percent of the country's total vehicle fleet in October of 2009, compared to

In what might turn out to be one of the biggest games of "he said, she said," in the history of the world, Maritz Research, an automotive market research company, is claiming that the government's Cash for Clunkers program actually boosted auto sales by much more than previously thought. Maritz is crediting the program with 765,000 new vehicle sales, higher than the 677,000 claimed by the government, and much, much higher than the 125,000 sales that Edmunds.com famously quoted. In fact, it's mor

Japan's Transport Minister Seiji Maehara saying words we put into his mouth

Cash-for-Clunkers was among the more watched auto-related story lines of 2009. With the industry hurting, the government provided cash vouchers of between $3,500 and $4,500 to anyone who turned in a vehicle that was eight (or more) years-old and with between two and 10 miles-per-gallon worse fuel economy numbers than the new car or truck with which it was replaced. The program went from fledgling idea to a done deal in a matter of a few months, showing that the U.S. government is capable of move

Cash-for-Clunkers was among the more watched auto-related story lines of 2009. With the industry hurting, the government provided cash vouchers of between $3,500 and $4,500 to anyone who turned in a vehicle that was eight (or more) years-old and with between two and 10 miles-per-gallon worse fuel economy numbers than the new car or truck with which it was replaced. The program went from fledgling idea to a done deal in a matter of a few months, showing that the U.S. government is capable of move

Israel is the next contestant in the Cash-for-Clunkers game, but playing it a bit differently than national counterparts: Israel's intentions appear to be solely for the purpose of getting older cars off the roads. Run jointly by the transportation and environmental protection ministries, the program will hand over 3,000 New Israel Shekels (NIS) ($810 U.S.) to anyone who turns in a car more than 20 years old.

Remember that insane list filled with great cars that were reportedly crushed under the Cash-for-Clunkers program? We were wondering if and when the federal government would thoroughly audit dealers who cashed in products like a 2006 Cadillac STS, an Audi S6 or a 2008 Foose F-150. That still may or may not happen, but apparently isn't the chief concern of Iowa Senator (R) Charles Grassley.

China has announced the extension of the country's vehicle scrappage scheme for 2010. Motorists will be able to trade in cars that are considered "highly pollutant" and receive a state subsidy worth between 5,000 yuan (about $730) and 18,000 yuan ($2,600), which is a significant increase over last year's maximum of 6,000 yuan. A "highly polluting" car is either a gasoline car that doesn't qualify for the first tier of Chinese emission regulations (e.g., early VW Santanas) or diesels that don't q

France had one of Europe's most ambitious "cash for clunkers" plan, but the fun will end in the new year. Starting January 1st, France's program will only pay out the largest award – €1,000 – to buyers of just one model: the smart fortwo cdi. The reason can be found at the tailpipe.

The U.S. Car Allowance Rebate System (a.k.a. 'cash-for-clunkers') program was a short-term boon for automakers participating in our market. Sales went up, inventory went down and nearly 700,000 vehicles that would likely have otherwise ended up on used car lots were destroyed. And since the U.S. is essentially a free market where automakers around the globe are allowed to participate, Japanese and European automakers benefited from the program as well. In fact, Japanese automakers fared even bet

What do you do with some 700,000 recently clunked cars? Send them to scrap heaps, naturally. According to the initial set of rules drafted when Cash for Clunkers was first launched, all those vehicles need to be processed properly, which includes removing most (if not all) of the good usable parts from each vehicle before sending the remaining hulk through crush and melt-down machines.

While there is no question that Obama's Cash-for-Clunkers program accelerated vehicle sales this summer, a new report by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute shows the big winners were from Japan, not Detroit.

While there is no question that Obama's Cash-for-Clunkers program accelerated vehicle sales this summer, a new report by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute shows the big winners were from Japan, not Detroit.

The facts in the case of the White House versus Edmunds are essentially indisputable – but they are open for interpretation. The federal government's $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program generated 690,000 sales by providing $3,500 and $4,500 vouchers to car buyers who turned in their eligible car or truck in exchange for a more fuel efficient ride. From here on in, Edmunds and the White House seem to be at considerable odds.

The facts in the case of the White House versus Edmunds are essentially indisputable – but they are open for interpretation. The federal government's $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program generated 690,000 sales by providing $3,500 and $4,500 vouchers to car buyers who turned in their eligible car or truck in exchange for a more fuel efficient ride. From here on in, Edmunds and the White House seem to be at considerable odds.

Cash for Clunkers vehicles – Click above for high-res image gallery

The ramifications of America's. Cash for Clunkers program are still being figured out – which isn't all that surprising given that a total of 700,000 or so sales totaling $2.877 billion were processed in just one month. And besides facing the unfortunate lack of suitable demolition derby material, scrapyards are reportedly finding themselves ill-equipped to deal with all the junked iron sitting behind their barbed-wire fences.

October is coming to a close, which means we're within a few days of getting the bad news monthly auto sales tally. But October may not look as bad as many feared, at least according to the latest study by J.D. Power. The industry forecasting gurus see October sales down only six percent versus October 2008, showing that one of America's hardest hit industries may have already bottomed out. If October sales end up panning out like JDP thinks, it will be the first time in 17 months (outside of Au

We found out which vehicles were the most popular "green" clunkers in the Car Allowance Rebate System that ran its course earlier this fall, but it won't take much sleuthing to discover where all these clunkers have ended up. According to the AP, the disabled SUVs, minivans and trucks (mostly) are still sitting on scrap lots around the country. One recycler in Minnesota has acres crammed with 4,000 cars and can only dismantle about 100 cars a week. This is a problem, because all of the clunkers

New car sales have been in a downward spiral for over a year now, and the big beneficiaries appear to be used cars (and repair shops). A study by Manheim Consulting shows that the company's Used Vehicle Value Index has risen to a record high of 118.5 in the month of September, up 1.8% versus August. That's the ninth straight increase this year, as Manheim's index has steamrolled northward by 6.9% over the past 12 months.

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