Corvette buyers welcome to help build their engines

Corvette owners could soon be revving up an engine they built with their own hands.

General Motors Co. said Monday that buyers who order a 2011 Corvette Z06 or ZR1 can help assemble their cars’ high-performance LS7 and LS9 engines. The automaker believes the program is the first of its kind.

The engines will be built at GM’s Performance Build Center in Wixom, Mich., where GM assembles all of its high-performance engines by hand. The facility can assemble up to 15,000 engines per year, GM spokesman Tom Read said.

Read said it will take buyers about six hours to assemble, adjust and clean their engines with the parts provided. A skilled technician will supervise.

The 2011 Corvettes are just going into production and will go on sale soon. Read said the company expects to have customers building their own engines as soon as next month. GM sold 13,934 Corvettes last year, according to AutoData Corp.

GM suggests dealers charge $5,800 for the engine-building program, which doesn’t include air transportation but does include one night of lodging. But that’s just a fraction of the cost of a Corvette Z06, which starts at around $75,000, or a ZR1, which is more than $100,000.


Prices at the gasoline pump expected to remain steady

Gasoline pump prices should stay in a fairly narrow range this summer, putting less strain on family budgets for summer driving trips and commutes to work.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded regular was $2.715 Monday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That’s down almost a penny from a week ago and 17.8 cents higher than a year ago.

In Maine, the statewide average was $2.745 per gallon for regular. Heating oil averaged $2.59 a gallon in Maine.

California drivers paid the most for gasoline — $3.11 a gallon — while motorists in Gulf Coast states paid the least — $2.56 a gallon.

Analysts don’t expect a big change in pump prices in the next four to six weeks unless something unexpected happens, like a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico that could crimp supplies a big jump in oil prices.

Most analysts say demand is moderate at best this summer amid ample gasoline supplies as consumers curb spending because of worries about jobs and the pace of the economic recovery.”

Benchmark crude lost $1.14 to settle at $74.95 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Maker of V8 drinks adding V-Fusion teas to the mix

The Campbell Soup Co. is introducing still more beverages aimed at getting people who don’t like vegetables to consume them anyway.

The maker of V8 V-Fusion juices, as well as more traditional canned soup and other snacks, told analysts that its new line of V8 V-Fusion teas will hit stores next month.

Like the juices, the teas will include vegetables but their flavor will be dominated by fruit. The teas are the biggest product introduction Campbell’s said is part of a strategy to increase spending on its beverages and healthy snacks.


Administration credits plan for hiring of 4.5m workers

Businesses have hired 4.5 million workers under a new program that provides tax breaks for hiring unemployed workers, the Treasury Department said.

It is unclear, however, how many of those workers would have been added without the tax break.

President Barack Obama signed a law in March that exempts businesses hiring people who have been unemployed for at least 60 days from paying the 6.2 percent Social Security payroll tax through December. Employers get an additional $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.

Treasury released a report estimating that from February through May, businesses hired 4.5 million workers who qualify for the tax breaks. Those businesses are projected to save $8.5 billion in taxes.