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Some carmakers getting rid of in-dash CD players

Digital music players contributing to loss of old-fashioned equipment

Here's one more thing to consider as you shop for your next car: Does it have a CD player? If it does, can the driver reach it?

Or maybe you don't care. Some automakers believe buyers won't in a few years, when they expect to drop in-dash CD players completely.

By the end of the fiveor six-year production run of most new models introduced this year - cars like the Dodge Dart, Cadillac XTS and ATS - the standard-equipment, built-in CD player could be as extinct as the eight-track player. (Ask your grandparents.)

Several factors are driving the change. Fewer drivers listen to CDs as phones and iPod-style devices become the music player of choice. Second, space on the dashboard is becoming more precious as automakers add features like the iPad-style touch screen of Cadillac's new CUE system. Finally, eliminating the CD player is an easy way to save a few bucks and shave a couple of kilograms from a vehicle's weight, and lighter weight equals higher fuel economy and lower fuel bills.

Dodge and Cadillac are leading the way. The Dart's CD player rides in a storage compartment under the centre armrest. The CTS and XTS put them in the glove box, a considerably less-convenient location.

Executives at many companies figure CD players will soon fade from the list of factory equipment and become a dealerinstalled option.

Ford's two all-new 2013 models buck the trend. The Escape and Fusion both have CD players built into their dashboards.

MORE GREAT NAMES

After I complained recently about automakers using strings of letters rather than names for new cars, Jeff Godshall of the Society of Automotive Historians suggested the bestever year for American car names was 1955.

He cites these examples:

- Nash Ambassador Custom Country Club

- Hudson Hornet Custom Hollywood

-Buick Roadmaster Riviera

- Oldsmobile Ninety-Eight Holiday

- Pontiac Star Chief Custom Catalina

-Chevrolet Bel Air

-Plymouth Belvedere

- Dodge Custom Royal Lancer

De Soto Fireflite Coronado

- Chrysler New Yorker Deluxe St. Regis

- Mercury Montclair Sun Valley

- Ford Fairlane Crown Victoria

Automakers used the complicated multi-part names to designate the overall model line and specific subsets such as body style, Godshall explains.

Toyota tried the tactic a few years ago with the Camry Solara, in which "Solara" designated the two-door coupe or convertible version of the Camry sedan. Toyota later simplified it to Solara, eliminating the Camry tag before it dropped the two-door model completely.

Honda did the same thing when it introduced the Accord Crosstour hatchback as the top model in the Accord family. Honda belatedly figured out that being associated with the odd-looking Crosstour was not improving the Accord's image. The facelifted 2013 model that goes on sale shortly is simply called the Crosstour.

A FOUR-CYLINDER SUPERCAR?

In a world of V-12 Ferraris and Lamborghinis, are the super-rich ready for a $1.4-million supercar powered by 1.6-litre fourcylinder engine? Jaguar apparently thinks so. British magazines recently got a briefing on the C-X75 super coupe, due in 2014. They report the little engine combines super-and turbocharging, develops 500 horsepower and revs to 10,000 r.p.m.

"It sounded like a crazed motorbike," Car magazine's Gavin Green said.

In addition to a top speed around 320 km/h and a zero-100 km/h time under three seconds, Jaguar says the plug-in hybrid should be able to cover about 55 kilometres and accelerate to 100 km/h in about six sec-onds on battery power.

Jaguar plans to build just 200 of the cars, which will feature a carbon-fibre-intensive structure and body developed with the Williams Formula 1 racing team.