Motoramic

Chevrolet Avalanche tumbles out of production: The Motoramic Dash

2013 Chevrolet AvalancheWelcome to the new and improved Motoramic Dash, a quick read of what's happening in the auto industry today:

Chevrolet announced this morning that 2013 will be the final year for the Chevrolet Avalanche, a pickup that was a breakout hit for General Motors when launched -- and still the only GM model to be considered a "Top Pick" by Consumer Reports. But it's going out with a mini-bang, in the form of this, the Black Diamond Avalanche, which sounds dangerous, but is actually cheaper.

Why is GM burying the Avalanche? After an initial flush of popularity, the Avalanche and its midgate system only sold 20,000 copies last year. When it arrived in 2001, crew-cab pickups were rare; now, they dominate the market, and GM's next generation of full-size Silverado pickups due in a year will likely have all the creature comforts the Avalanche can muster with none of the extra body engineering and weight that make it more expensive to build.

The Avalanche isn't the most respected pickup in truck circles, but it's passing will mark an end to some fun experimentation among pickups. It and the Ford Explorer Sport Trac filled a niche for people who wanted some pickup utility without the compromises of a full-size truck. Sales have picked up this year with the rest of the industry -- but it will still be a slow roll out.

Other links from around the automotive world this morning:

Fuel Economy Rules Cut 7 Million Buyers Out of Market, NADA Says: If prices go up by $3,000 per vehicle, sure. If automakers eat some of those costs, not so much. (F&I Magazine)

Ford, Dow to explore carbon-fiber use in vehicles: And here's one way that $3,000 cost could come down, if Ford and Dow Chemical can find the holy grail of cheap carbon fiber production. (Reuters)

Tesla Motors cut factory costs to generate profits: Elon Musk may want to colonize Mars, but first he has to finish the hard road to making money building cars. (Bloomberg)

Study says baby seats hard to install in most cars: This will not be news to many people, but it shouldn't be so hard 12 years after regulations were supposed to solve the problem. (USA Today/DriveOn)

Hyundai expects to boost U.S. sales to 700,000 this year: Hyundai hasn't missed a sales target in recent memory, and it will likely hit this one, too. (Wall Street Journal)

Chevy switching all 11 IndyCar engines before Long Beach: Every IndyCar running a Chevy V6 will get docked 10 places, after Chevy engines won the first two races of the season. Ouch. (Speed TV)

Own the Yugo racer from Top Gear USA: You laugh, but a Yugo with a rollcage and a new Fiat engine can be fun in the right situations. (Copart)