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Ford introduced the 2010 Fusion and its cousin the Mercury Milan this week at the LA Auto Show. The hybrid Fusion/Milan features the SmartGauge cluster with EcoGuide, which coaches the driver to drive more efficiently. The gauge cluster has a central analog gauge with displays on either side for lots of flashy graphs. All this and it gets 6 mpg better than the Camry Hybrid for $27K and change.

The Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association (AAIA) published their quarterly industry indicators this week, and there was a lot of interesting and very depressing news, but the following graphic (source: AAIA) describing the recent relationship between gas prices at the pump and the total miles driven by American, month over month, is astounding!

The precipitous drop in miles driven is profound, and though it looks as though when gas hits 4 or more dollars a gallon, driver behavior changes, my guess is that there is more going on.  The  relationship may be between how quickly prices go up and the change to miles driven.  The more sharp the spike in prices, the more sizable the response from consumers, whereas a gradual increase in prices doesn't spark a similar downward trend.

Automaker Mini, with help from BMW, have developed the Mini E. It is fitted with a 150-kilowatt electric motor that produces 204 horsepower, a high-performance lithium-ion battery pack (good for 150 miles on a full charge) and a single-stage helical gearbox that sends the power out to the front wheels. From a standing start, it will hit 60 mph in about 8.5 seconds; and reach a maximum speed of 95 mph.

Announced at the L.A. Auto show yesterday, the automaker has plans to release 500 electric vehicles for long term testing. If you live in the Los Angeles or New York City metro areas, you're in luck! Check here to find out more!

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The LA Auto Show is one of the big car events of the season, it starts this Friday the 21st and continues through the 30th.  The LA Auto Show seems to be the venue of choice for learning about the latest hybrid technology -- it has turned into the place to show off new green, alternative automobiles. 

With the LA Auto Show about to start, the big manufacturers are reaching out with exciting news about their alternative vehicles about to appear in the months ahead.  Today, Ford announced that it plans to beat Toyota when it comes to hybrids.  

I ran across an article today on Autospies.com that discussed a recent announcement from BMW of North America regarding turbo-lag problems with the twin-turbocharged inline six cylinder motor that currently powers the acclaimed 335i, among many other new BMWs.

From our perspective at RepairPal, what was interesting about the news is that BMW originally updated its engine software to address an engine noise problem, and in doing so, the new software fix created a small turbo-lag problem.  This is a terrific example of the deep importance and extreme sensitivity of computer controls in modern automobiles.  It wasn't long ago that a mechanic manually adjusted the air-fuel ratio and "tuned" an engine by listening to it run.  Now, software can address the specific behavior of turbochargers so subtle that many drivers would probably not even notice it--in fact, the engine computer and emissions control systems are constantly measuring and varying every step in the combustion process.  In other words, a modern car is constantly being tuned up by its engine computer.

While Ford continues to plead for a government bailout, there is some nice news coming out of the company too. They have unveiled the 2010 Mustang. The car is mostly a cosmetic makeover, carrying over most of the mechanical bits from the previous generation, including the V6 and V8 engines. The exterior is refined and gives the car a nicer, sharper look (if I do say so myself). Click over to Autoblog for more pictures.

Last night, President-Elect Barack Obama shared more of his thoughts about the suffering US auto industry on CBS 60 Minutes. He talks about, "creating a bridge loan to somewhere as opposed to a bridge loan to nowhere" so that the money does not keep GM, Ford and Chrysler in business just for another 6 months. Obama also reasserted that he is still focused on energy independence. See the interview below:

Ever since I saw this clip from the BBC's Top Gear, I've been waiting for the Toyota Aygo to appear in America.  I've read several times that it's coming, but it's been a couple of years since Edmunds and Autoblog shared whispers of this sort.  With the success of the Smart ForTwo, you'd expect Toyota to make it happen.  This tiny city car, which may go for less than 10 grand, has both a Renault and a Citroen mechanical twin, which should also both come to the US, but of course won't.

Once the Aygo hits our shores, if I can find a willing partner to donate the use of an abandoned airstrip, I'm totally putting together an Aygo Soccer League. It may be best if the airstrip is relatively close to a hospital.

The Green Car Journal recently named five finalists for their 2009 Green Car of the Year Award.  The Award was created to reward environmental responsibility among automakers.

The five finalists are: