1st Gear: The Obama administration is considering a fleetwide average of 56.2 miles per gallon for all new cars and trucks sold in the U.S. by 2025, two people briefed on the matter said. The proposal would roughly double current fuel-economy targets, and would likely raise the price of some cars by several thousand dollars. The Wall Street Journal says the proposal isn't final, and could be adjusted over the next several weeks as regulators prepare a formal draft to send to White House budget officials.
2nd Gear: As we've told you before, cars shouldn't be bought as an investment. But the New York Times is reporting that some are heeding Jalopnik advice we've already given twice in the past month — now is the time to sell your high fuel economy used car for a profit.
3rd Gear: Saab parent Swedish Automobiles has found another financial lifeline in China as the struggling carmaker faces possible legal action from unions over unpaid wages. In a statement this morning, Swedish Automobiles announced that an un-named Chinese firm has placed an order for 582 Saab vehicles, valued at 13 million Euro (£11.5m) with full pre-payment 'expected to be made this week'. Saab plans to use the funds to pay wages and begin partial payments to component suppliers in order to restart production. Also, Swedish real estate firm Hemfosa is ready to buy and lease back Saab's factory, throwing the crisis-hit carmaker a lifeline, but Saab's complex financial situation makes a deal difficult, Hemfosa's chief executive told a Swedish newspaper. By the way, that noise you're hearing right now? That's business analysts everywhere rolling their eyes.
4th Gear: While some consumers are curious about the unfamiliar technology behind the all-electric Nissan Leaf and plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, others are curious about something far more fundamental: Who sells the car? An independent market research study has found that people shopping for the new electric-technology cars aren't entirely clear on where to buy them. Nearly 70% of the shoppers had no idea that Nissan makes the Leaf, according to the study. And about 55% of those in the market for an electric car also couldn't connect the Leaf's chief rival, the Volt, with Chevrolet.
5th Gear: Automotive News reports this morning that North American automakers are struggling with a nagging shortage of tires, caused in part by tire plant closings and rising demand for low-volume specialty tires. Automakers are paying much higher prices — double-digit percentage increases from a year ago — as tire makers gain pricing power. "We have been bombarded from every side for additional tires, and we can't keep up," said David O'Donnell, Continental Tire's vice president of original equipment in the Americas. "We are at maximum capacity, and all shifts are maxed out." The shortage doesn't appear to have significantly crimped production plans, though automakers are scrambling to secure supplies. Earlier this year, Dan Knott, Chrysler Group's senior vice president of purchasing and supplier quality, said the company was short of premium tires for some nameplates. "The tire shortage will not clear up over the next year," Knott predicted. "It's going to take awhile."
6th Gear: Even though enthusiasm for a Jeep pickup continues to run strong, PickupTrucks.com is reporting its development is taking a back seat to more urgent projects at Chrysler, according to Jeep's CEO. "[The pickup] continues to progress because of the interest in the vehicle," said Jeep chief Mike Manley. "One of the things as a company that we've had to be very disciplined in is where we're putting our resources. We're still in recovery mode and have to be very careful with our investments. We have so much going on. Our resources are fully dedicated to small vehicles, [new transmissions] and working with Fiat. There are none left to work on the Jeep pickup [at this time]." Our sources tell us we shouldn't be expecting to see a Jeep pickup truck until 2015. Sad Jalopnik is sad.
⏎ Putin Drives Lada as Soviet Relic Approaches No. 1 Market: Cars [Bloomberg via San Francisco Chronicle]
⏎ Fiat rolls out national ads for 500. [Automotive News]
⏎ No, the Tappan Zee bridge will not be falling down anytime soon. Well, probably not, anyway. [New York Times]
⏎ Stick-Shift Transforms Buick Regal Turbo. [Wall Street Journal]
⏎ June car, truck sales to rebound, analysts say. [Detroit News]
⏎ Trucking in Technicolor on Pakistan's Highways. [New York Times]
⏎ GM's giving $2.5 million to Detroit's College for Creative Studies. [Twitter]
⏎ Joss returns to Melbourne motor show with latest supercar prototype. [GoAuto]
Today in Automotive History:
After 59 years, the iconic Route 66 enters the realm of history on this day in 1985, when the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials decertifies the road and votes to remove all its highway signs. [History]
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