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1st Gear: Consumer Reports Warns You Off These Cars
USA Today says there's some trash talk at Consumer Reports about cars it wants buyers to avoid. And a couple of them are surprising, given where CR has been in the past. The list includes the Honda Civic, and the Prius C, plus the Jeep Liberty, Ford Edge and Dodge Grand Caravan. How do you make CR's do-not-call list? Either by performing poorly on tests, says USA Today, having terrible reliability, or both. In the case of the Civic, CR isn't happy with the latest redesign, while it thinks the little Prius just looks cheap. We can guess those car companies won't be featuring this list in any future ads.

2nd Gear: Just How Bad Will It Get At Opel?
The Detroit News reports that Morgan Stanley thinks it's going to get ug-ly at Opel in the second half of the year. Analyst Adam Jonas has raised his estimate for a GM Europe loss to $1.5 billion for 2012. That's $200 million more than Deutsche Bank believes GM Europe will lose. Jonas is the analyst who brought up the subject of GM's loan to Opel on last week's conference call. In his research report, he sounded pretty frustrated with GM, which hasn't specified how it's going to fix Opel beyond a few talking points. "How many more billions will Opel lose before tough decisions are made?" Jonas asked in the report.

3rd Gear: BMW Might Disappoint With Next M3
Autoweek says BMW will show a concept car at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show that is a "thinly disguised" version of the next M3. The big news on the fifth generation car is its turbo-charged, six-cylinder engine, Autoweek says. Unlike previous M3s, the next one will only come as a sedan, and also will not be available with a stick shift.

The sedan thing we get because BMW might be moving the M badge to the M4, making the M4 the new M3 Coupe. But no stick shift? For shame.

The concept car is code-named F80, and the showroom-ready car will be displayed at next fall's Frankfurt show, according to Autoweek. It says if this timeline holds, the next M3 should be ready for North American sales in winter 2014, at prices that likely will top the $60,995 sticker of the 2012 M3 coupe. The last version of the M3 sedan went out of production last October.

4th Gear: Chrysler Promises It Will Get Electric
Bloomberg reports that Chrysler, which essentially has ignored the electric car market, is promising to get into the game. Speaking up at the Center for Automotive Research's annual confab, Chrysler VP Bob Lee says the company has plans for electric vehicles. ""We do believe in electrification, sparingly and for the right kinds of targeted applications," Lee said. "We're developing technology for commercialization, preparing for the shift when consumers start pulling them into the marketplace." In other words, Chrysler is going to wait for customers to decide they actually want to buy vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, and then it will roll out something. An electric Fiat 500 is supposed to go into production later this year, and go on sale next year. In one sense, it's just fine for Chrysler to drag its heels on electric vehicles: it hasn't had the money to sink into their development, and bean counters probably are shaking their heads over investment to car sales ratio. But, as Ford is finding out in China, it's always dangerous to be behind the curve.

Reverse: He Was Not A Crook. Got That?

On this day in 1974, Richard M. Nixon resigned as president of the United States. But not before he set in motion one of the most important developments ever to affect the automobile industry. In 1970, Nixon proposed and Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency. The year after he left office, Congress established Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards, and cafe stopped meaning something you drank in the morning. [History]


In keeping with our new discussion system, here's a place for you to own the floor. We're asking each day what you think about an issue that comes up in TMS.

Today, we'd like to know how much attention you pay to Consumer Reports. Its findings have been both a blessing and a curse to the car companies over the years. Do you read its recommendations? Do they guide your buying decisions? Or, do you think it doesn't give enough credit to vehicle performance? Remember there's no right answer or wrong answer. It's Neutral.

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