Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on November 22, 2014

Jaguar vs Land Rover sales chartThe reasons for the drop of the red line and the steady rise of the grey line on today’s chart are perhaps too numerous to count.

Additional product for one brand. Less intervention at another.

A move toward high-riding vehicles helped one brand. A move away from traditional cars harmed the other. These two factors are made all the more apparent when one brand employs a full lineup of SUVs/crossovers and the other has yet to bring its first utility vehicle to market.

One brand’s message has been artfully constructed over a few decades; the other’s has been muddied for at least a generation. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2014

Honda Fit EXLAmerican Honda reported the Fit’s best October ever last month. At 6851 U.S. sales, Fit volume was up 83% year-over-year to the highest total since April 2011, when Fit sales shot up 73% to 8116.

The new Fit, the third version of Honda’s sub-Civic car for North America has certainly been well-received early on in its tenure. With Honda sales rising to the highest October level ever and a new Mexican-built version of the brand’s least costly car finally readily available, seeing the Fit rise to new heights was not an unexpected occurrence.

It’s no E-Type on the outside, but the Fit’s purposeful design pays dividends inside for owners and even passengers. It is in some ways a mini-MPV with a very monobox shape. It’s not conventional, but its flexibility makes it strangely desirable as a result. Honda’s share of the subcompact category grew to 17.8% in October 2014, up from 10.8% a year ago and 10.6% in calendar year 2013 as a whole. It’s worth noting, as well, that the Fit is available only as a hatchback, while the four other members of the subcompact category’s October top five are sold as hatchbacks and sedans.

It’s also worth noting that the category continues to be controlled in large part by the cheap-and-roomy Nissan Versa, sales of which improved 29% in October 2014 to 11,097 units, 28.8% of the segment’s total. (Read More…)

By on November 20, 2014

Nissan Quest sales chartOctober 2014 was the lowest-volume U.S. sales month for the latest, fourth-generation Nissan Quest since the van debuted nearly four years ago in January 2011.

Minivan sales in America slid 2% in October 2014 but have risen 5% this year. Quest volume plunged 54% in October. Quest sales are down 23% this year. No minivan sold less often than the Quest in October, not even the cancelled Mazda 5. (Read More…)

By on November 18, 2014

2015 Volkswagen Golf R WagonThe R version of Volkswagen’s Golf isn’t the kind of car Volkswagen intends to sell in large numbers. The most recent iteration found 3894 U.S. owners in 2012, equal to 19.3% of the 20,208 fast Golf buyers, if “fast Golf” means GTI and R.

In 2013, as the Golf R’s availability inventory dried up, the Golf R attracted 1598 U.S. buyers, or 10.7% of the GTI/R total.

In the meantime, Volkswagen sold 23,946 Jetta SportWagens in 2012 and another 22,534 in 2013, years in which, respectively, VW USA sold 40,885 and 30,931 total Golfs. The Jetta SportWagen, you may recall, was and is a Golf wagon underneath. It has even been marketed in Canada that way. But, thought VW USA, the greater popularity of the Jetta nameplate in the United States meant marketing the car under that banner was more lucrative.

As VeeDub fans the world over have already noted, Volkswagen is showcasing the Golf R Wagon at the auto show in Los Angeles this week. It is the dream car for automotive writers: a relatively affordable and rather quick all-wheel-drive German wagon. It’s blue, yes, but they could paint it a lovely shade of brown, right?

Let’s say, for the sake of your dreams tonight, that this car actually ends up in America as a production car marketed and stocked by Volkswagen dealers. How many could we reasonably expect to see? (Read More…)

By on November 18, 2014

October 2014 YTD Canadian auto brand market shareIn October 2014, for the first time since March of this year, the Chrysler Group outsold all other automobile manufacturers in Canada.

The margins were slim: only 259 units separated Chrysler Group’s five brands from the Ford Motor Company; only 301 stood between the Chrysler Group and General Motors. But these are celebratory moments for an automaker which owns 15.6% of the Canadian market. Chrysler Group’s market share in its “home” U.S. market stands at 12.6% through the first ten months of 2014. (Read More…)

By on November 17, 2014

Captiva import?The esteemable Jack Baruth backed one up toward an odd-looking statue back in March. Sales then boomed in April and May.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

In truth, Jack was no fan of the Chevrolet Captiva Sport he rented earlier this year, saying, “It won’t strike the desirability chord in anyone’s heart,” and, “This is a car to avoid at all costs.”

Fleet buyers, including most especially the rental car companies in the United States, did not avoid the Captiva Sport. They flocked to the reclothed Saturn Vue in large numbers. (Read More…)

By on November 16, 2014

mercedes-benz-gla-2In the span of two months, the BMW X1 went from possessing no true direct German competition to finding challengers on two fronts.

That’s not to say the X1 was never a viable, though slightly smaller, challenger to the rivals of BMW’s own X3. But the X1 was sitting on the bottom rung of the ladder, and it’s no longer resting their on its own. (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2014

TTAC sales chart trucks and best-selling SUVsPickup truck sales increased 10% in the United States in October, an 18,590-unit jump in a market which grew 6%. Besides drawing attention to the, “The people buy trucks because the fuel is cheap,” argument, which is not at all completely false nor entirely true, the 10% increase drew our attention to the massive figures generated by the biggest nameplates and their expansive product ranges.

We’ve covered truck sales already this month, so rather than taking another deep dive into October’s specifics, consider instead the percentage of America’s growing auto market that belonged to the pickup truck category last month: 15.8%.

That’s not a small number. Indeed, it’s a significantly larger number than the one achieved by the category through the first ten months of 2014: 13.8%. For perspective, however, think back one decade. In 2004, 19% of the new vehicles sold in America were pickup trucks. (Read More…)

By on November 14, 2014

Nissan Sentra - 4. Picture courtesy NissanIn the steadily growing U.S. new vehicle market, car sales have increased just 1% through the first ten months of 2014.

Nissan, however, says their car sales have grown 15.5% in 2014, surging forward by more than 90,000 units to 669,538.

In calendar year 2013, total new vehicle sales were up nearly 8%, but car sales grew just 4% during a year in which, for example, pickup trucks were up 12%.

2014 hasn’t been so kind to cars, with the Chrysler Group’s passenger cars collectively falling 15%, Ford Motor Company car sales sliding 4%, GM cars up less than 2%, American Honda car sales up less than 1%, Hyundai car sales down 3%, total Toyota/Lexus/Scion cars up just 1%, and the Volkswagen brand’s cars down 12%. (Read More…)

By on November 13, 2014

2015 Acura TLX silverIn September we asked if the TLX could restore Acura’s car business. In October, we realized that by Acura standards, the TLX could quickly end up as a hit. And now in November, with October 2014 U.S. sales results in hand, the Acura TLX is a hit.

We could apply all manner of qualifying statements: it’s early; other cars are transitioning to a new model year as Acura ramps up the TLX; year-over-year comparisons only highlight the dire straits which were afflicting the TLX’s predecessors; the TLX is relatively inexpensive and thus obviously a more justifiable proposition for buyers moving up to “luxury” cars.

Or, the TLX is exactly what potential Acura customers had been desirous of for years. Not too big, not too small. A choice between an efficient four-cylinder or a similarly efficient but far more powerful V6. Front or all-wheel-drive. Transmissions which, at least in terms of ratios, leapfrog the competition. Somewhat subdued but not unattractive styling. And an advertised base price below $31,000.

The result? Only four premium brand cars – 3-Series/4-Series, C-Class, ES, 5-Series – and only six premium brand vehicles – RX and MDX included – outsold the TLX in October 2014. (Read More…)

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