Ford Aiming for ‘Biggest Year’ in History, Hiring 5,000 in U.S.

A Ford spokesperson has said that the American automaker is planning on releasing 16 new vehicles in North America next year and hiring 5,000 new employees. “2014 will be our biggest year for product launches in our 111-year history. We keep investing in product,” said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas.

The hourly and salaried jobs will bring to the total number of new people hired by Ford over a three-year time span to 19,000. These newly-hired hands are needed produce the all of the new vehicles that will be launched in 2014, to include the 2015 F-Series pickup trucks and Mustang. Worldwide, the company-that-Henry-built plans on releasing 23 vehicles next year.

Close to 2,000 of the newly-hired hourly employees will work in Ford’s plant here in Kansas City, MO., while 3,300 salaried works will join them next year. Additionally, Ford is planning on opening two new plants in the Asia-Pacific region and one in South America next year as well.

Hear That? Hybrid Vehicles Put Pedestrians on Alert

While owners of hybrids may be doing their part to save the environment, another concern has been brought to light. Because the vehicles are so quiet, they are twice as likely to hit a cyclist. Unfortunately, the issue is with the sound (or lack thereof) of hybrid vehicles. Because these “green” cars are not running on the standard gasoline motors that have exhausts and mufflers which are heard from a distance, pedestrians and cyclists do not hear them approaching. It is not just vision impaired people who are getting hit. Whether they realize it or not, normal vision individuals use the audio queues of engines to look and see where a vehicle is located. When they hear the hybrid vehicles, it is often too late.

“Noisy” Legislation

The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 dictates that the DOT has to write a rule to address this issue by January of 2014. Back in January of 2013, the NHTSA proposed a rule that must emit a sound when they traveling below 18.6 miles per hour. Above that speed, these vehicles are thought to make sufficient noise through tires and wind resistance. The NHTSA believes this policy would prevent 2800 injuries a year, and save 35 lives. Many automakers have been critical of the proposed legislation. They would prefer that the noise-makers cut off earlier, at 12-13 miles per hour, and they believe that installation of these noise-making devices will have a detrimental impact on sales.

If that is not enough motivation for hybrid drivers to be careful on the road, they should also be aware that repairs on hybrids are still considerably higher in cost compared to non-hybrid or electric cars.

Leases Make Plug-in Cars Cheaper than Ever

Carmakers are clearing their lots of electric cars to make way for cars from the next model year. The result is that now is the time to snap up bargains, with some of the best deals being the low, low cost of getting into a plug-in electric car with a lease.

Nissan, for example, is offering three-year leases for its poorly-named electric Leaf at $199 a month. General Motors, meanwhile, chopped 13 percent off the starting price of its Chevy Volt a couple months ago. If you just used a plug-in to commute, you could very easily replace what you are now paying in gas each month for the lease cost of a plug-in, which would effectively give you an electric car for free.

Of course, to take advantage of such cost savings you need to make sure your daily driving does not exceed the single-charge range of your car. A Leaf’s is 75 miles. According to John O’Dell, a senior editor at auto site Edmunds.com:

“These cars are really designed for people driving 40 miles or less in their daily commute. The more you go above pure electric range, the less attractive these vehicles get.”

If you have been on the fence about opting for a plug-in hybrid, consider that sales of such vehicles were up 36% through September of 2013, and these year-end lease deals will only push those numbers higher. It seems that US consumers are gaining trust in these vehicles, seeing their gas-sipping nature as good for both earth and wallet.

Study Shows Auto Loan Seekers Prefer Digital Banking

According to Accenture research, rates of online loan sales have increased dramatically while brick-and-mortar bank loan sales have declined. One type of loans that customers increasingly prefer to seek online are auto loans. The study predicts that digital banking will continue to outpace branch banking, and by 2020, banks may have lost 35% of their current North American market share.

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