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Talk of the day: Hyundai races to the front in quality race

By TIMES WIRES
Published June 5, 2007


And the surprise winner is: Hyundai Motor Co. It led in five categories in the annual vehicle quality study by Strategic Vision Inc., a market research company. Once known best as the maker of cheap cars, the South Korean automaker outperformed its Japanese, European and U.S. rivals in a survey based on interviews with about 27, 000 people who bought 2007 models in September-November 2006. Last year, Hyundai had no winners. This year's champs are: Azera, above, in large cars; Santa Fe in small sport utility vehicles; Entourage tied for best minivan with the Nissan's Quest and the Sedona by Hyundai affiliate Kia Motors Corp. The Kia Sorento led among medium SUVs.

China determined to censor the Web

China will license no new Internet cafes this year while regulators carry out an industrywide inspection, the government says. Investigators will look into whether Internet cafes are improperly renting out their licenses or failing to register their customers' identities. The communist government encourages Web use for business and education, but authorities are worried it gives children access to violent games, sexually explicit material and gambling Web sites. President Hu Jintao has ordered Chinese authorities to clean up "Internet culture."

Blu-ray has bout of price shrinkage

With dominance of the market for high-definition movie discs still up in the air, Sony Corp. said Monday it is including a small surprise with the new Blu-ray disc player it is shipping this week: a price tag $100 lower than previously announced. When Sony announced the BDP-S300 player, shown above, in February, it put the price at $599, but it has now set a list price at $499 - half the price of the first Blu-ray player launched just six months ago. The new player has essentially the same capabilities as the older BDP-S1 but is smaller.

Factory orders feeble in April

Orders to U.S. factories posted a weaker-than-expected gain in April as declines in demand for cars, planes and boats offset strength in business investment. The Commerce Department reported Monday that factory orders increased by 0.3 percent in April, the weakest showing in three months. Still, economists were encouraged that orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft - a category considered a good proxy for business investment - was up a strong 2.1 percent in April following an even larger 4.6 percent rise in March.