YONKERS, N.Y. (Nov. 22, 2006) — In its just-released 2006 annual report, Consumers Union (CU), the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine, said it has continued to expand its “automotive franchise” both on and off the track, including the addition of a new facility for tire testing.
The monthly magazine—which calls itself “the only independent source in the U.S. that publishes performance ratings for tires”—said it conducts more than a dozen tire tests annually at its Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Conn., including braking and cornering. CU noted its “new hydroplaning facility allows our engineers to precisely evaluate a tire's ability to resist skimming on a pool of water. Comfort and noise are judged on bad roads built just for that purpose, and over asphalt and concrete road surfaces.”
CU said sometimes it goes farther afield than its own facility. “Snow traction might be tested in a remote location in Vermont, and braking on ice is completed under controlled conditions at a local indoor ice-skating rink.” It also claimed the magazine is “a critical source” for ratings of rolling resistance and tread life. “State and federal agencies are considering rolling-resistance ratings for consumer use. We're already there.”
The Yonkers-based publisher's annual report said engineers and support staff from CU will test a record 85 vehicles in 2006 for its monthly reports, and have conducted head-to-head ethanol vs. gasoline tests, as well as safety-related tests in the areas of emergency handling and braking, headlight effectiveness, and rear blind zones.
For fiscal 2006, Consumers Union reported an increase of 8.8 percent in total revenue and support, and an increase of $10.6 million in net assets during that period. It closed the year with net assets of $87.55 million vs. $76.94 million for the previous fiscal year.
At year-end, the magazine had a total of 7,392,588 subscriptions, up 9.5 percent from a year ago. It tested 3,377 products in the last 12 months and, CU said, not only had no lawsuits filed against it in fiscal 2006, but has lost no lawsuits in Consumer Union's 70-year history.