The Truth About Cars » Analyst Grades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:01:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Analyst Grades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/analyst-grades/ Consumer Reports: Tesla Model S Ranked “Average” In Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/consumer-reports-tesla-model-s-ranked-average-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/consumer-reports-tesla-model-s-ranked-average-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 04 Nov 2014 13:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=940281 Think your Tesla Model S is all that and a bag of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Doritos? That it says to the world that you’ve arrived? That you’re standing on the edge of a silver future? Consumer Reports says your car’s just “average.” The publication took information from its recent Annual Reliabilty Survey — which […]

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Tesla Model S Burnout

Think your Tesla Model S is all that and a bag of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Doritos? That it says to the world that you’ve arrived? That you’re standing on the edge of a silver future? Consumer Reports says your car’s just “average.”

The publication took information from its recent Annual Reliabilty Survey — which Tesla cannot partake in full until it has a second model in the lineup, per the survey’s criteria — and found that the 1,353 Model S owners surveyed had similar service experiences as Consumer Reports had in its long-term tester. The comparison with other vehicles the same age as the premium EV helped it earn the “Average” ranking.

The majority of the reports focused on small problems, such as slow-retracting door handles and body-component issues. That said, the publication will continue to recommend the Model S to its readership, noting it was in good company with other high-end vehicles rated as such, including the Acura RLX.

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Low Fuel Prices, Strong New-Car Sales Boost US Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/low-fuel-prices-strong-new-car-sales-boost-us-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/low-fuel-prices-strong-new-car-sales-boost-us-economy/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 14:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938937 What happens when $2.99 for a gallon of regular fuels demand for new vehicles? The U.S. economy feels its VTEC kick in, of course. According to The Detroit News, the U.S. Commerce Department reported the economy grew 3.5 percent in Q3 2014, with 0.59 percentage points contributed by auto sales. Said sales also delivered an […]

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What happens when $2.99 for a gallon of regular fuels demand for new vehicles? The U.S. economy feels its VTEC kick in, of course.

According to The Detroit News, the U.S. Commerce Department reported the economy grew 3.5 percent in Q3 2014, with 0.59 percentage points contributed by auto sales. Said sales also delivered an 0.55 percent boost in Q2 2014, helping the GDP climb to 4.6 percent.

Spending is up, as well: 9.5 percent increase in automotive spending through September 30, resulting in a SAAR of $457.1 billion.

Meanwhile, October’s sales are expected to rise 6.4 percent in comparison to the same time last year, with more to come according to Edmunds analyst Jessica Caldwell:

Car and truck sales have settled into a groove. Dealers are welcoming a consistent flow of shoppers into their showrooms, and the pace will likely remain steady through the end of the year. With declining gas prices and strong truck and SUV sales, the industry is poised for a very busy holiday season.

Forecasters are predicting 2014 sales will hit 16.4 million units, the best performance since 2006, with LMC Automotive projecting 17 million sold by 2018, 17.5 million by 2020. The figure would just best the previous high of 17.4 million SAAR, achieved in 2000.

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Nielsen: Baby Boomer Men Greatest Generation Of Connected-Car Users http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nielsen-baby-boomer-men-greatest-generation-connected-car-users/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nielsen-baby-boomer-men-greatest-generation-connected-car-users/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930226 Nielsen, who are better known for its television ratings system than much else, recently published a report narrowing down who exactly goes for connected-vehicle technology the most. Short answer: Men 55 and over, college degree in one hand, $100,000 in the other. Breaking it down further, men comprised the majority of all connected-vehicle users at […]

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Cadillac CUE

Nielsen, who are better known for its television ratings system than much else, recently published a report narrowing down who exactly goes for connected-vehicle technology the most.

Short answer: Men 55 and over, college degree in one hand, $100,000 in the other.

Breaking it down further, men comprised the majority of all connected-vehicle users at 58 percent, with 42 percent over the age of 55, 62 percent in possession of a college degree, and 37 percent making over $100,000 annually.

As for how all users end up in a connected vehicle, Nielsen says safety is the biggest factor, with 79 percent believing the vehicle’s technology will keep them safe on the road. Crash notifications, Internet-enabled navigation and safety alerts were at the top of the users’ list when shopping for a new vehicle.

The entertainment side of the infotainment divide also had its day in the sun, with 36 percent of users streaming audio into their car on a regular basis, 26 percent going online, and 21 percent downloading media while riding the real superhighway.

Finally, 84 percent of women who own a connected vehicle consider having their vehicle act as a Wi-Fi hot spot is important to their needs, over 74 percent of men.

Nielsen Connected Car Report 1

Nielsen Connected Car Report 2

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Interbrand: Toyota Most Valuable Global Automotive Brand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/interbrand-toyota-valuable-global-automotive-brand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/interbrand-toyota-valuable-global-automotive-brand/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928554 Aside from giving away FCVs at environmental media award celebrations, Toyota is Interbrand’s most valuable automotive brand on its Best Global Brands list, moving from No. 10 to No. 8 overall in 2014. Despite the $1.2 billion fine levied by the U.S. Justice Department for concealing defects linked to unintended acceleration, followed by a recall […]

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Toyota-badge

Aside from giving away FCVs at environmental media award celebrations, Toyota is Interbrand’s most valuable automotive brand on its Best Global Brands list, moving from No. 10 to No. 8 overall in 2014.

Despite the $1.2 billion fine levied by the U.S. Justice Department for concealing defects linked to unintended acceleration, followed by a recall of 6.4 million units over airbag and seat issues weeks later, the New York-based brand consultancy group says its higher ranking is a result of the following:

  • Brand perception: Though considered as a solid brand known for quality over spirit, Toyota’s campaigns as of late are helping to build a more lively image.
  • Technological advancement: Vehicles like the Mirai and Prius are just two examples of the automaker’s environmental stewardship — Interbrand ranked Toyota No. 2 in this year’s Best Global Green Brands list — while collaborations with Microsoft and BMW help to drive further developments in engineering and mobility.
  • Resource allocation and diversity: Toyota aims to increase the number of women in managerial positions to 320 by 2020, 570 by 2030. The recent relocation of its U.S. headquarters from California to Texas will mean more efficient productivity and greater collaboration between its sales, marketing and manufacturing teams.

Among the rest of the global auto players among the overall list of 100 global brands, Mercedes-Benz represents Europe at No. 10, Ford comes in for the United States at No. 39, and Hyundai raises the flag for South Korea at No. 40.

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US New-Car Fuel Economy Improves For 2013, Falls For September 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-new-car-fuel-economy-improves-2013-falls-september-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/us-new-car-fuel-economy-improves-2013-falls-september-2014/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=927914 Good news: New-car fuel economy in the United States improved to an average of 24.1 mpg in 2013. Bad news: Said economy fell to 25.3 mpg for September 2014. AutoblogGreen reports the 2013 average, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency, is not only an improvement of 0.5 mpg higher than in 2012, but is […]

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Man Pumping Gas

Good news: New-car fuel economy in the United States improved to an average of 24.1 mpg in 2013.

Bad news: Said economy fell to 25.3 mpg for September 2014.

AutoblogGreen reports the 2013 average, as calculated by the Environmental Protection Agency, is not only an improvement of 0.5 mpg higher than in 2012, but is the highest the yearly average has ever been. It’s also the halfway point to the 2025 CAFE target of 54.5 mpg, which would come out to an EPA sticker value of 40 mpg thanks to improvements in gasoline engines, alternative clean technologies, and the credits such things generate.

Still, it is a long way to the top if the green parade still wants to rock and roll. According to AutoGuide, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reports the September 2014 average is a 0.5 mpg drop from the all-time high of 25.8 mpg recorded in August. The group adds that the last time U.S. new-car fuel economy dropped by 0.5 mpg was in December 2011. Research professor Michael Sivak says the drop “likely reflects the increased sales of light trucks and SUVs, and the reduced demand for fuel efficient vehicles of all types because of the falling gas prices.”

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Goldman Sachs: Tesla Needs $6B In Capital To Meet “Disruptive” Growth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/goldman-sachs-tesla-needs-6b-capital-meet-disruptive-growth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/goldman-sachs-tesla-needs-6b-capital-meet-disruptive-growth/#comments Thu, 25 Sep 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=918314 According to the financial overlords of Goldman Sachs, Tesla would need an $6 billion in capital within the next 11 years should its products become truly disruptive to the automotive industry. Per Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs analyst Patrick Archambault delivered that number to his employer’s clients Wednesday, based on what he believes would be needed should […]

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Tesla HQ

According to the financial overlords of Goldman Sachs, Tesla would need an $6 billion in capital within the next 11 years should its products become truly disruptive to the automotive industry.

Per Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs analyst Patrick Archambault delivered that number to his employer’s clients Wednesday, based on what he believes would be needed should Tesla’s electric lineup prove as popular as the iPhone 6 or Model T. The proclamation knocked the automaker’s shares down 1.7 percent to $259.32 on the trading floor in New York at the final bell.

Though Tesla CEO Elon Musk plans to sell a minimum of 500,000 units per year down the road, Archambault claims the capital needed would push annual production from 1.8 million to 3.2 million units by 2025. Other projects, such as the upcoming Gigafactory battery pack plant in Reno, Nev., would also need some of the projected $6 billion in additional capital. He adds that most of the $6 billion would be distributed from 2017 through 2025.

Meanwhile, Tesla has not given its own forecast for capital spending, according to representative Simon Sproule.

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Edmunds: 2014 SAAR May Best 2006 Peak http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/edmunds-2014-saar-may-best-2006-peak/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/edmunds-2014-saar-may-best-2006-peak/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910034 The surge in United States auto sales last month could push the final figures to a height not seen since 2006 when January 2015 rolls around. According to Automotive News, Edmunds chief economist Lacey Plache said that though the publication is holding at 16.4 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) for 2014, “there is definite […]

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Couple + Salesman Sign The Contract Of Blood

The surge in United States auto sales last month could push the final figures to a height not seen since 2006 when January 2015 rolls around.

According to Automotive News, Edmunds chief economist Lacey Plache said that though the publication is holding at 16.4 million SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate) for 2014, “there is definite potential for numbers to hit higher than that.”

At present, the SAAR for 2014 is expected to hit 17.5 million, much higher than the previous peak of 16.6 million in 2006. August’s SAAR was fueled by strong Labor Day sales, which may have dinged September’s SAAR as consumers opted to make their purchases before summer drew to a close.

Meanwhile, Plache expects 2015’s SAAR to fall just short of 17 million, fueled by expiring leases. However, she and Edmunds senior analyst Jessica Caldwell warn a rise in interest rates in 2016 may put a drag on sales. Caldwell adds that automakers’ finance wings could counter this “by subsidizing lower rates.”

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August 2014 US New-Car Fuel Economy Hits All-Time High Of 25.8 MPG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/august-2014-us-new-car-fuel-economy-hits-time-high-25-8-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/august-2014-us-new-car-fuel-economy-hits-time-high-25-8-mpg/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 13:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=907065 The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s monthly United States new-car fuel economy report is out, and it’s a doozy: August 2014 saw an all-time high of 25.8 mpg. Automotive News reports the figure is the highest recorded since UMTRI began calculating averages in October of 2007, when the average then was 20.1 mpg. The […]

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2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid Fuel Economy Display, 49MPG, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s monthly United States new-car fuel economy report is out, and it’s a doozy: August 2014 saw an all-time high of 25.8 mpg.

Automotive News reports the figure is the highest recorded since UMTRI began calculating averages in October of 2007, when the average then was 20.1 mpg. The most recent peak came in May, when the average was 25.7 mpg before dropping to 25.5 mpg the following month.

As for greenhouse emissions, the institute’s Eco-Driving Index fell to 0.78 in June, tying the record low first calculated in November 2013. The metric posits the lower the number — beginning at 1 in October 2007 — the lower the emissions.

EDI_mpg_August-2014

EDI_June-2014

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Consumer Reports’ Long-Term Tesla Develops Reliability Blemishes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/consumer-reports-long-term-tesla-develops-reliability-blemishes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/consumer-reports-long-term-tesla-develops-reliability-blemishes/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 10:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889626 Though the Tesla Model S is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended darlings, the premium EV garnered its share of reliability blemishes during long-term testing. Consumer Reports’ Gabe Shenhar says that over the 15,743 miles he and his colleagues have spent driving the Model S, a number of problems have popped up, including: Automatic retracting door […]

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Tesla Model S

Though the Tesla Model S is one of Consumer Reports’ recommended darlings, the premium EV garnered its share of reliability blemishes during long-term testing.

Consumer Reports’ Gabe Shenhar says that over the 15,743 miles he and his colleagues have spent driving the Model S, a number of problems have popped up, including:

  • Automatic retracting door handles “relucant to emerge from the coachwork”
  • A broken seat buckle in the third row seating section
  • Front trunk lid failing to release via touchscreen
  • Said screen going blank, blocking all access to the car’s functions

Shenhar noted every one of these problems were quickly remedied by the service center in Milford, Conn. or over-the-air from the mothership in California.

He concludes that the sedan’s reliability ranking may fall a bit when the publication’s related survey is examined in September, but only if other Model S owners have had similar problems occur with enough severity and frequency to merit a downgrade.

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Latest GM Recall Woes Hurt Q2 Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-25-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/general-motors-digest-july-25-2014/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873066 In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker takes it on the chin in its quarterly report; the analysts have their say; GM Korea could allow its workers to build the next Cruze if only they would put down the picket signs; 45 attorney generals are investigating the February 2014 recall; and CEO Mary Barra will […]

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GM Renaissance Center

In today’s General Motors digest: The automaker takes it on the chin in its quarterly report; the analysts have their say; GM Korea could allow its workers to build the next Cruze if only they would put down the picket signs; 45 attorney generals are investigating the February 2014 recall; and CEO Mary Barra will be the keynote speaker for a connected-vehicle forum.

Autoblog reports GM made a net income of $200 million for Q2 2014, in comparison to $1.2 billion during Q2 2013. Speaking of $1.2 billion, that was how much the automaker paid in recall-related repairs this quarter, with a $900 million charge ready for future recall campaigns. Finally, $400 million has been set aside for the Feinberg compensation plan, though $200 million may be added down the road.

Meanwhile, Automotive News collected a number of analyst quotes regarding the poor Q2 2014 showing, including KBB.com’s Jack Nerad proclaiming that while the automaker may be handling recalls better these days, “it is paying for past sins in terms of the bottom line.” Michael Krebs of AutoTrader.com adds that GM “would have had an outstanding quarter” were it not for the ongoing recall parade, and both Brian Johnson of Barclays Capital (but not of AC/DC) and Morningstar’s David Whiston believing brighter days ahead in Europe and outstanding success in China.

Speaking of the Asia-Pacific, GM Korea management informed the employee’s union that if the latter calls off its impending strike over stalled wage negotiations, the next-gen Chevrolet Cruze would be built in its Gunsan facility. The factory — where the Orlando and current-gen Cruze are assembled — is one of four under GM Korea, and boasts a production capacity of 260,000 units per year.

Back at home, The Detroit News reports GM is under investigation by 45 attorney generals over the February 2014 ignition switch recall, as well as auto safety agency Transport Canada. On the federal level, CEO Mary Barra stated she hasn’t met with the prosecutors or the grand jury regarding the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigations into wire and bankruptcy fraud related to the automaker’s 2009 bankruptcy proceedings.

Finally, Barra will be the keynote speaker at the 21st World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems in Detroit September 7. The event, focused on connected vehicles, will attract 10,000 guests from 65 countries to share and discuss ideas, challenges and strategies regarding the burgeoning scene. Barra’s keynote will focus on the future of intelligent transportation.

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Subaru Behind Jeep, Ram As Most Off-Roaded Automaker http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/subaru-behind-jeep-ram-as-most-off-roaded-automaker/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857073 Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby. Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most […]

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green subaru xv crosstrek hybrid

Jeep may be the first thing to come to mind when the idea of going off-road comes up in conversation, but when taking a trip from Los Angeles to that secret pool/art installation in the middle of the desert, you might find a Subaru waiting nearby.

Autoblog reports the automaker’s vehicles are the third most off-roaded in a 2013 J.D. Power study, where 29.5 percent can be found departing the highway for the trail; only Ram and Jeep bested Subaru at 30.2 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Subaru’s director of corporate communications, Michael McHale, added that owners of his company’s offerings were “190 percent more likely to do outdoor activities than other brands,” meriting those treks off the beaten path.

Regarding individual vehicles, the Outback sees the highest use in the dust and mud at 34.7 percent. Meanwhile, most Jeep Grand Cherokee owners prefer the high street over high peaks, with only 21.1 percent deciding to experience just how “trail-rated” their SUVs are. The Outback is also among Subaru’s top three best-selling vehicles in 2013, sandwiched between the Forester and the XV Crosstek as the automaker celebrated its sixth consecutive year of record sales; 424,683 units were sold in the United States alone that year.

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BMW M235i Bests Corvette, 911 In Consumer Reports Road Testing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/bmw-m235i-bests-corvette-911-in-consumer-reports-road-testing/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855833 BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online. Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the […]

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BMW M235i HR 04

BMW’s M235i has earned the highest marks ever bestowed upon the German automaker’s lineup from Consumer Reports, while also besting the Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road tests whose results were recently released online.

Bloomberg reports the coupe earned a 98 out of 100 in its road test, falling one point short of the all-time leaders, the Tesla Model S and Lexus LS460L. The 911 and Corvette, packing more firepower with less comfort than the M235i, earned 95 and 92 out of 100 in their respective road tests.

Deputy editor Jon Linkov proclaimed the M235i a “dual-purpose car” that anyone “could drive to work every day of the week” without leaving the driver in pain, followed by a weekend at the track taking on the likes of the 911 and Corvette. He added that this particular BMW “has almost a direct lineage” to BMWs of the past that lived up to the marketing of “Ultimate Driving Machine.”

Neither of the trio were recommended by the publication, however, as the BMW and the Corvette were too new for reliability reports, while the 911 has below average reliability according to those surveyed.

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JD Power Initial Quality Study Shows GM, Hyundai, Porsche Leading The Pack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/jd-power-initial-quality-study-shows-gm-hyundai-porsche-leading-the-pack/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 12:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846905 J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles. Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. […]

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2013 Buick Encore, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

J.D. Power has released their U.S. Initial Quality Study for 2014, where General Motors, Hyundai and Porsche earned top marks despite consumers still struggling with the gizmology taking over their vehicles.

Autoblog reports GM’s Buick, Chevrolet and GMC captured more awards than anyone else in the 2014 IQS, with six vehicles winning in their segments. Meanwhile, Hyundai and Porsche were ranked best overall mass-market and premium brand, respectively, where the former reported 94 issues per 100 vehicles reported in the first 90 days, 74/100 for the latter. Porsche also dominated the IQS, having the best score of all brands surveyed.

On the other end of the scale, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles ranked poorly in the study, with Fiat holding dead last at 206 problems per 100 vehicles reported in the survey period. Jeep came second-to-last with 146/100, while Dodge was just below the industry average at 124/100. Only Ram and Chrysler fared the best, matching or just exceeding the average of 116/100.

Part of the results may be due to automakers pushing the envelope on technology and new features to make consumers’ lives easier. J.D. Power Vice President of Global Automotive David Sargent says “almost all automakers are struggling” to introduce these pieces “without introducing additional quality problems.” In turn, some consumers are noting the technologies involved are “hard to understand, difficult to use, or [do] not always work as designed.”

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May 2014 New-Car Fuel Economy Average Climbs To 25.6 MPG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/may-2014-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-6-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/may-2014-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-6-mpg/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838369 Though the new-car fuel economy average stumbled a bit in April, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says May’s figure more than made up for it by setting a new monthly record high of 25.6 mpg. Autoblog Green reports the latest figure is also 3.2 percent higher than the 24.8 mpg average from May […]

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Though the new-car fuel economy average stumbled a bit in April, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says May’s figure more than made up for it by setting a new monthly record high of 25.6 mpg.

Autoblog Green reports the latest figure is also 3.2 percent higher than the 24.8 mpg average from May 2013. As for the long game, UMTRI found the five-year fuel economy average climbed 20 percent, due in part to both automakers making and customers buying more fuel efficient offerings, as well as alternative fuel vehicles, hybrids, PHEVs and EVs.

In addition, the department released their unadjusted CAFE mpg figures for May 2014, where the fuel economy average is 31.1 mpg. Both figures are based on methodology established by UMTRI in October of 2007.

EDI_CAFE_May-2014

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S&P Delivers Junk Status On Tesla http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/sp-delivers-junk-status-on-tesla-stock/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/sp-delivers-junk-status-on-tesla-stock/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 12:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833497 Though still riding high all over equity markets, Tesla’s debt offerings took a severe hit in status when Standard & Poor’s bestowed a rating of junk status due to increased possibility of default by the EV automaker. Automotive News quotes Standard and Poors [Tesla has a] arrow product focus, concentrated production footprint, small scale relative […]

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Though still riding high all over equity markets, Tesla’s debt offerings took a severe hit in status when Standard & Poor’s bestowed a rating of junk status due to increased possibility of default by the EV automaker.

Automotive News quotes Standard and Poors

[Tesla has a] arrow product focus, concentrated production footprint, small scale relative to its larger automotive peers, limited visibility on the long-term demand for its products and limited track record in handling execution risks that could arise in managing high volume parallel production.

The automaker issued $920 million of 0.25 percent unsecured convertible senior notes due in 2019, another $1.38 billion in 1.25 percent unsecured convertible senior notes with a date in 2021, and a previous issue of such notes due in 2018 totaling $660 million. The notes are being used to fund two Gigafactory projects and further development of the Gen III EV platform meant to underpin the compact vehicle formerly known as the Model E.

In the meantime, the rating company expects the debt to remain stable over the next 12 months in part to improvements on the company’s gross margins. The rating also offers the potential for high returns for investors who know the risks and rewards the status entails.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly termed Tesla’s stock as “junk”, when it should have referred to Tesla’s debt offerings. We regret the error.

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Survey: GM Worst In Its Relationships With Tier 1 Suppliers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/survey-gm-worst-in-its-relationships-with-tier-1-suppliers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/survey-gm-worst-in-its-relationships-with-tier-1-suppliers/#comments Tue, 13 May 2014 11:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=819657 Already dealing with a perception-is-reality problem over its ongoing product recall crisis, General Motors now has a new perception problem: Tier 1 suppliers find the automaker to be the worst automaker in the United States when it comes to their relationships with the company. Reuters reports in a survey conducted by automotive consultant group Planning […]

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GM Renaissance Center TRON Version

Already dealing with a perception-is-reality problem over its ongoing product recall crisis, General Motors now has a new perception problem: Tier 1 suppliers find the automaker to be the worst automaker in the United States when it comes to their relationships with the company.

Reuters reports in a survey conducted by automotive consultant group Planning Perspectives, the industry’s largest suppliers were asked to rate their relationships with the six automakers responsible for over 85 percent of all light vehicle sales within the United States, grading on key points including trustworthiness, communication and intellectutal property protection. GM scored poorly among Tier 1 companies, resulting in a last-place finish behind Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, who had held dead last from 2008 to last year.

Taking the podium, Toyota and Honda came in first and second respectively, while Nissan knocked Ford out of third. According to Planning Perspectives head John Henke, the Japanese podium sweep could be seen as a sign that supplier relations with the Detroit Three may be waning, especially as the Japan Three are becoming seen in a better light among the Tier 1 suppliers.

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April 2014 Sales Expected To Rise With The Temperature, Fulfilled Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/april-2014-sales-expected-to-rise-with-the-temperature-fulfilled-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/april-2014-sales-expected-to-rise-with-the-temperature-fulfilled-demand/#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 13:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=809698 As the vortices of winter give way to the tornadoes of spring, two automotive weather forecasters predict April 2014 sales to rise 9 percent as consumers head for the showroom floor amid the warming air. Automotive News reports LMC Automotive and Edmunds.com both have revised their 2014 outlook on April’s climbing sales to somewhere over […]

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Subaru dealership

As the vortices of winter give way to the tornadoes of spring, two automotive weather forecasters predict April 2014 sales to rise 9 percent as consumers head for the showroom floor amid the warming air.

Automotive News reports LMC Automotive and Edmunds.com both have revised their 2014 outlook on April’s climbing sales to somewhere over 16 million vehicles, though the figure is short of the 16.3 million predicted in March. The former also projected 16.6 million units would be manufactured in North America by the end of the year, 3 percent more than what was made in 2013.

As for April, total sales are expected be around 1.4 million, with Edmunds.com expecting General Motors to take 17.7 percent of the U.S. market as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Toyota and Nissan also experience double-digit gains for the month. Meanwhile, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Kia and Volkswagen will see losses in the market.

The causes behind the current sales growth include pent-up demand caused by a harsh winter keeping consumers at home, and the introduction of 63 all-new or redesigned models entering the showroom floor. However, some consumers may have to wait a while for their favorite vehicles to arrive, as railroad shipping has been delayed by weather, geographic shifts in production, and the Bakken oil rush.

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March 2014 US New Car Fuel Economy Average Climbs To 25.4 MPG http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/march-2014-us-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-4-mpg/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/march-2014-us-new-car-fuel-economy-average-climbs-to-25-4-mpg/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 11:30:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=787577 The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says the U.S. new car fuel economy average climbed 0.3 mpg to 25.4 mpg in March. Automotive News reports the average is the highest recorded since the university began collecting data in October 2007, being 5.3 mpg higher than the first recorded average that month. The institute’s Eco-Driving […]

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ARCO fuel station

The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute says the U.S. new car fuel economy average climbed 0.3 mpg to 25.4 mpg in March.

Automotive News reports the average is the highest recorded since the university began collecting data in October 2007, being 5.3 mpg higher than the first recorded average that month. The institute’s Eco-Driving Index held at 0.80 in January, a 20 percent improvement since the EDI was also established in October 2007.

As for fuel consumption, a separate study found consumption to be 11 percent lower in 2012 than in 2004, reflecting both a decline in driving distance, and an increase in fuel economy. In 2012, the average per vehicle was 529 gallons.

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Toyota Dominates Consumer Reports Used Car Recommendations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-dominates-consumer-reports-used-car-recommendations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/toyota-dominates-consumer-reports-used-car-recommendations/#comments Tue, 18 Mar 2014 13:07:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774913 Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands. Automotive News reports the 2011-2012 Camry and 2010-2011 Camry Hybrid among the best sedans between $15,000 and $20,000, while the 2006-2007 Lexus RX shares the same pricing […]

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2014 Toyota Camry

Several Toyota models dominated this year’s Consumer Reports list of used car recommendations, with 11 out of 28 overall belonging to the automaker’s Scion, Lexus and namesake brands.

Automotive News reports the 2011-2012 Camry and 2010-2011 Camry Hybrid among the best sedans between $15,000 and $20,000, while the 2006-2007 Lexus RX shares the same pricing space with the non-turbo 2009-2010 Subaru Forester. The 2004-2007 Prius, 2004-2006 Scion xB and the Pontiac Vibe/Toyota Matrix twins all took the $10,000 or less small car category, while the 2008-2009 Highlander Hybrid, 2011 Avalon and 2006 Lexus LS took their respective segment spots for vehicles between $20,000 and $25,000.

Overall, all but three of the 28 recommended used cars were made in Japan or South Korea; the 2011-2012 Lincoln MKZ, 2012 Ford Fusion Hybrid and the aforementioned Pontiac Vibe were the only domestics to make the recommendation list.

Consumer Reports also unveiled their “worst of the worst” used car picks, where all but six were made by the Detroit Three, including the Chevrolet Cruze 1.8-liter and Impala, the Chrysler/Dodge trio of minivans, and the orphaned Saturn Outlook and Relay. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen and MINI make up the remainder of the 21 picks to avoid.

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Barclays: GM Suffering From Worst Large Pickup Launch In 15 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/barclays-gm-suffering-from-worst-large-pickup-launch-in-15-years/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:29:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757225 Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson. Automotive News reports the truck twins […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Exterior

Though the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado took home North American Truck/Utility of the Year at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, the large pickup and its brother, the GMC Sierra, have suffered from “the least successful large pickup launch over the last 15 years” according to Barclays Capital analyst Brian Johnson.

Automotive News reports the truck twins “faced a full-court press” from the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, though winter weather also played a role in lower sales across the board. General Motors executives have come to the defense of their products, proclaiming average transaction prices of $4,000 to $5,000 more than the previous generation pickups and a combined market share hovering around 33 percent over the past few months, though the latter point held between 35 and 40 percent of the market in years past.

With dealers begging for stronger promotion and better incentives for the pickups, Chevrolet will host its Chevy Truck Month promotion. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing (dealer invoice plus destination charges and a $150 fee) on light- and heavy-duty Silverados, and will be heavily pushed during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament with television advertising beginning March 18.

In addition, Chevrolet, Buick and GMC will all hold Open House events throughout the month of March. The month-long sale will offer supplier pricing on nearly every 2014 vehicle sold under each brand, with the exception of the SS and Corvette Stingray for Chevrolet.

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Sonata Quality Issues Drag Down Hyundai, R&D President Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/sonata-quality-issues-drag-down-hyundai-rd-president-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/sonata-quality-issues-drag-down-hyundai-rd-president-returns/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:54:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756401 Just as J.D. Power ranks Hyundai fifth from dead last over quality issues regarding the 2011 Sonata, the automaker’s research and development president, Kwon Moon-sik, returns to the fold three months after quitting over a number of quality issues within the product line. Automotive News and Reuters report Hyundai holds 27th overall on J.D. Power’s […]

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2011 Hyundai Sonata

Just as J.D. Power ranks Hyundai fifth from dead last over quality issues regarding the 2011 Sonata, the automaker’s research and development president, Kwon Moon-sik, returns to the fold three months after quitting over a number of quality issues within the product line.

Automotive News and Reuters report Hyundai holds 27th overall on J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study, with 169 problems per 100 vehicles surveyed. Though nothing was specified for the 2011 Sonata or the 2011 Elantra — the other car from 2011 that brought down Hyundai’s rank — the industry overall developed issues with engines and transmissions tied to advanced fuel-efficiency technologies, including turbocharging. The sedan’s issues are magnified due to its groundbreaking design and said technologies, shaking up the otherwise conservative midsize sedan segment on its way to becoming Hyundai’s top-selling vehicle.

Meanwhile, Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo has rehired R&D president Kwon Moon-sik to help right the ship as the next generation Sonata prepares to make its debut in South Korea next month, as the automaker said in a statement:

Given his expertise, experience and leadership skills, we reinstated president Kwon to enhance quality and R&D capability from scratch.

Hyundai also said they expect their dependability ratings to improve next year when the 2012 models are evaluated, though it was “very disappointed” the results of this year’s study, and is “examining every component of the score to determine root-cause solutions” for improving their product line and services.

Kwon, along with two other R&D executives, quit three months earlier over quality issues — such as those affecting the 2011 models — that led to massive recalls in the United States, South Korea and other market. He was also one of the top aides to Chung’s son, Chung Eui-sun. His replacement, Kim Hae-jin, will return to heading powertrain development.

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Japanese Brands Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings, Detroit Three Struggling http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/japanese-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings-detroit-three-struggling/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754369 Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings. Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are […]

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2014 Lexus GS 450h Hybrid Exterior-004

Though quality and performance have improved as of late for products made by the Detroit Three, they still have a ways to go to beat the Japanese brands dominating Consumer Reports‘ current rankings.

Automotive News reports seven of the top 10 brands rated for overall reliability and road-test performance as conducted by the magazine are Japanese, while the two top Detroit brands — Buick and GMC — tied for 12th; Ford and Jeep tied for last place.

The top-rated brand for the second consecutive year was Lexus, scoring 79 out of 100 for their lineup deemed “quiet, plush, and very reliable” by Consumer Reports. Following the luxury brand were Acura, Audi, Subaru and Toyota (tied for fourth place), Mazda, Honda, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW and Volvo (tied for 10th).

As for where the remaining Detroit Three brands landed, Chrysler took up the 14th position while Chevrolet, Cadillac, Dodge and the aforementioned Ford and Jeep rounding out the bottom of the rankings behind Nissan, the lowest ranked Japanese brand in a tie with Volkswagen for 19th.

Ford and Jeep’s dead-last ranking is the result of technology woes for the former’s MyFord Touch infotainment system, and a “crude and outdated” lineup — including a Grand Cherokee suffering from weakened reliability, and a Cherokee that the magazine says “isn’t that competitive” — for the latter. Ford, in particular, is a “sad story” according to CR director of auto testing Jake Fisher:

The Ford Fusion, not only does it look, but it drives like a good European sports car. It really does. The problem is the reliability, and that’s what’s dragging down that brand.

Meanwhile, Fisher notes that if General Motors had “a whole lineup of Impalas,” considered the best large sedan based on road tests conducted by the magazine, the automaker would be at the top of the rankings. Overall, Fisher believes the Detroit Three as a whole are “going the right way” in terms of reliability and performance.

Regarding individual models, the Ram 1500 was rated the Best Pickup over the Silverado/Sierra twins in part due to the lack of reliability information for the latter two, while Hyundai captured the trophy Best Mid-Size SUV for their Santa Fe, Subaru holding off the Honda CR-V with their Forester for Best Small SUV, and Tesla, whose Model S holds the highest overall score ever given by the magazine: 99 out of 100, takes home the Overall trophy.

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Panasonic, Partners Plan To Invest $1 Billion In Tesla Gigafactory http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/panasonic-partners-plan-to-invest-1-billion-in-tesla-gigafactory/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 15:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754985 In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant. The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to […]

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Toyota Panasonic TF108

In the wake of Tesla shares hitting an all-time high of $259.20 after Morgan Stanley raised its target price to $320/share, battery maker Panasonic is gathering a few partners to go all in on a $1 billion investment in the automaker’s Gigafactory battery production plant.

The Globe and Mail reports that the plant, set to open in 2017 (just in time for production of the Tesla Model E), will help bolster Panasonic’s supply of lithium-ion batteries already found in the Model S and, soon, the Model X. The Gigafactory would also provide packs to Toyota and various automakers interested in the technology.

Though the proposed factory would lower production costs by placing the entire process under one roof, the main purpose according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “to support the volume of the third generation car”:

Meanwhile, investors heeded the advice of Morgan Stanley Tuesday, pushing Tesla share prices to a record peak of $259.20 before falling to $248 at close. The firm raised its target price per share from $153 to $320 based on the potential effects the Gigafactory could have on the United States auto industry in the next 14 years, an assessment Stifel analyst James Albertine believes to be a game-changer in the energy storage market:

While we remain negative on Tesla shares above $200 as an automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer), the energy storage opportunity requires a broader perspective and could very well justify current, if not higher valuation levels.

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Presidents Day, Warmer Weather Provide Small Jump In February Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/presidents-day-warmer-weather-provide-small-jump-in-february-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/presidents-day-warmer-weather-provide-small-jump-in-february-sales/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754449 Brief warming spells between polar vortices and Presidents Day sales boosted sales in February, though rising inventories and incentives raise questions about sales momentum heading into the oncoming spring selling season. Automotive News reports seasonally adjusted annualized rates of 15.4 million units from TrueCar and Cars.com, and 15.3 million from Kelley Blue Book, up from […]

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Brief warming spells between polar vortices and Presidents Day sales boosted sales in February, though rising inventories and incentives raise questions about sales momentum heading into the oncoming spring selling season.

Automotive News reports seasonally adjusted annualized rates of 15.4 million units from TrueCar and Cars.com, and 15.3 million from Kelley Blue Book, up from 15.2 million SAAR projected last month after snowstorms and colder temperatures across most of the country kept consumers out of the showroom.

Meanwhile, fleet sales also took a hit this month, contributing to overall SAAR projections of 15.5 million from Barclays Capital, 15.7 million from LMC Automotive, and 15 million-plus from Wells Fargo Securities. Wells Fargo Securities senior analyst Richard Kwas also estimates March’s SAAR could surpass 16 million units, a figure last seen in August and November 2013, while he and J.D. Power senior vice president of the global automotive practice John Humphrey both believe the negative effects bestowed by winter weather systems earlier in February would be mitigated by stronger push in sales — boosted by Presidents Day promotions — at the close of the month.

Part of that push comes at the heels of more incentives. TrueCar listed increases of 3 percent over January, 5 percent from the same point in 2013, and a year-over-year of 20 percent for Honda, Hyundai/Kia, Toyota and Volkswagen. Ford also boosted their year-over-year to 16 percent, while General Motors and FCA’s Chrysler Group saw their incentive spending fall. Transaction prices also rose this month, with LMC predicting a record average of $29,000 per unit, beating the previous record from last February by over $400 per vehicle.

At the start of February, automakers began with an 88-day supply of inventory, the highest since 2009 when automotive sales collapsed at the start of the Great Recession. LMC expects the inventory should thin by spring — projecting a 16.2 million SAAR for 2014 — though warned production levels could drop if the backlog is still an issue come June, forecasting a 2.5 percent decline in North American production to 16.5 million units.

Even more interesting will be the month of March. It could be the first indicator of over-exuberance about the auto market, or it could be the sign of things picking up after a nasty bout of cold weather.

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J.D. Power: Increase In Dependability Problems For 1st Time Since 1998 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/j-d-power-increase-in-dependability-problems-for-1st-time-since-1998/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/j-d-power-increase-in-dependability-problems-for-1st-time-since-1998/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 15:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740841 In a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the analyst group has found an increase in the average of dependability problems per 100 cars, the first such increase since 1998. Autoblog reports that the firm’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study found an average of 133 issues per 100 cars made in 2011 among the 41,000 […]

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In a new study by J.D. Power and Associates, the analyst group has found an increase in the average of dependability problems per 100 cars, the first such increase since 1998.

Autoblog reports that the firm’s annual Vehicle Dependability Study found an average of 133 issues per 100 cars made in 2011 among the 41,000 respondents who participated, up 6 percent from 126 problems per 100 cars found in 2010 models in last year’s study. The majority of the issues stem from the drivetrain, particularly those utilizing four-cylinder and diesel engines; five- and six-cylinder powerplants were less problematic.

As for the brands with the least problems, Lexus takes the prize for the third consecutive year with only 68 issues per 100 units, while Mercedes-Benz (104), Cadillac (107), Acura (109) and Buick (112) rounding out the top five.

Among the automakers, General Motors took home eight dependability awards for their 2011 models, including the Volt, Escalade and Lucerne, while Toyota won seven among their trio of brands, and Honda taking home six awards.

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