Posts By: Timothy Cain

By on February 4, 2016

2016 Chrysler 200S

News that 200 production would instantly end, albeit temporarily, was overshadowed by news that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would, sooner than later, farm out the design and production of their small and intermediate cars to a rival automaker.

The Chrysler 200’s plant in Sterling, Michigan will undergo a six-week shutdown due to an inventory glut at dealers nationwide. Over the last three months, U.S. sales of the 200, FCA’s best-selling car in the United States in 2015, tumbled 46 percent to only 24,111 units, or about the number of Camrys Toyota sells every 18 days. (Read More…)

By on February 3, 2016

2005 Scion xB

Is Toyota about to officially murder the company’s fledgling Scion marque? If so, it will be both the exact outcome analysts and observers and fans predicted for years and a surprising turn of events.

After thriving for half a decade prior to the economic collapse, Scion’s poor performance in recent years led us to assume that Toyota would tire of the brand’s inability to turn a corner. But then Toyota finally reinvested in the brand, launching a sports car, a conventional hatchback with the iM, and a new Mazda2-based best seller, the iA.

Only months into the tenure of the two newest Scions, the cars which accounted for six in ten Scion sales in January, Toyota apparently realizes that the potential of the iA, iM, and even a C-HR crossover is insufficient. Joining Geo, Eagle, and Merkur on the scrap heap of failed auto brands launched by large automakers, Scion is killed off just when we thought Toyota had decided not to kill off Scion.

(Read More…)

By on February 1, 2016

Calendar

When is a Gregorian calendar not a calendar? When December 2015 ends on January 4, 2016.

AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson brought greater attention to the subject of the unnecessarily convoluted auto sales calendar when, in a conversation with Automotive News reporter Amy Wilson, Jackson said, “It’s ridiculous that I have to get on the air and explain the industry calendar to make sense of sales.”  (Read More…)

By on January 26, 2016

vw tsi tdi

Perhaps you heard. Volkswagen ran into a little trouble with their previously acclaimed TDI diesel engines.

No matter.

Volkswagen’s recently introduced 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas-fired engine was already beginning to weaken the case for the optional 2-liter diesel. But now a new 1.4-liter turbo – yes, a wee little 1393 cc four pot – generates the same amount of torque as the 1.8T, has only 20 fewer ponies, revs with sweet abandon, and produces real-world fuel economy figures that challenge the TDI.

The pick of the Jetta range? You better believe it. More pertinently, there’s no better base engine in an affordable small car in 2016. Say goodbye to the TDI if you must, even temporarily, then welcome this TSI with wide open arms. (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2016

2015_Toyota_Sienna_SE-1

Minivan sales in America fell 8 percent to only 513,000 units in 2015, less than half the number of MPVs sold in the United States a decade ago. Yet the number of sales produced by the three biggest players, across four nameplates, are more than healthy enough to suggest Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is wise to reinvest in their Windsor, Ontario, plant and the all-new Pacifica van.

Of course, the degree of wisdom employed by FCA as the automaker goes about reinventing its van is up for debate. Switching from Town & Country to Pacifica? Leaving the Dodge Grand Caravan to lumber along in previous-gen form? Neglecting all-wheel-drive in a gaga-for-SUVs market? There are upsides and downsides to each of these decisions.

But FCA’s decision to stick with a segment from which Ford, General Motors, Hyundai and Mazda fled is a wise one. The minivan market is much, much smaller than it was a decade ago. But if half a million people in America want to buy a minivan every year, the automakers which historically controlled the sector will want to own as large a chunk of that market as possible. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2016

2015 Toyota Camry

The streak began in 2002 and remains unbroken. Yes, 2002, which began with the Patriots winning the Super Bowl and ended after George W. Bush’s GOP was strengthened during the first mid-term elections of his presidency.

The Toyota Camry was America’s best-selling car. And the Camry has topped the best-selling cars leaderboard every year since.

In 2015, the Camry’s lead over the second-ranked car grew to 66,000 units from 40,000 in 2014. As U.S. passenger car volume declined in a record-setting year for the auto industry, the Toyota Camry’s sales did not. As midsize car sales slid 2 percent, U.S. Camry volume increased to the highest level seen of America’s most popular car in seven years.

Threats to the Camry’s supremacy in 2016? They stand shoulder to shoulder with the Camry inside Toyota’s own showrooms. (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2016

2016 chevrolet impala

American consumers, businesses, and government agencies registered a record-setting 17.5 million new vehicles in 2015. That takes into account more than 2.5 million pickup trucks, half a million minivans, more than 420,000 commercial vans, more than 420,000 subcompact crossovers, and nearly 2.4 million midsize cars.

But as SUV/CUV sales increased rapidly, pickup trucks strengthen, and car sales decline, which vehicles dominated their respective categories?

Envelope, please. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2016

2015 Porsche Macan

As the American auto industry soared past 2014’s output on the way to a record-setting year of new vehicle sales volume, the rising tide did not lift all boats.

Smart, Bentley, Dodge, Maserati, Jaguar, Fiat, Volkswagen, Scion, and Buick all sold fewer vehicles in 2015 than in 2014. The year-over-year rate of growth produced by Cadillac, Mini, Mazda, Chevrolet, Toyota, Chrysler, and Ford was, in each case, slower than the industry’s overall rate of expansion.

Thirteen automobile brands did, however, sell more new vehicles than at any time in their respective histories.

Arranged in reversing order of total sales, these are they. (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2016

2015 Honda CR-V

Record new vehicle sales volume in 2015 was powered largely by growth in the SUV/crossover category and further strengthening by pickup trucks. Flat car sales and declining minivan volume served to impede U.S. auto sales growth.

Prior to 2015, consumers, businesses, and government agencies had not combined to purchase and lease more than 17 million new vehicles since 2001. With 17.47 million sales in 2015, year-over-year volume jumped 6 percent and total new vehicle sales soared 67 percent compared with 2009, when auto sales plunged to their lowest depths during the recession. (Read More…)

By on December 17, 2015

Forty-nine cars worth more than $2.2 million dollars arrived for one-week stays in my driveway during the 2015 calendar year. Seventeen of them were traditional four-door sedans, including an XSE V6 version of America’s most popular car — the Toyota Camry. Another 15 were utility vehicles of one kind or another: the tiny Jeep Renegade and Mazda […]

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