The Truth About Cars » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 » News Blog http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/ Too Big To Fail, Too Confused To Operate: Analysis Of 619 Pages Of Cobalt Engineering Documents [w/ Full Text] http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/too-big-to-fail-too-confused-to-operate-analysis-of-619-pages-of-cobalt-engineering-documents-w-full-text/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799138  

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The House Energy & Commerce Committee recently released the documents GM submitted for investigation, which includes emails and internal reports documenting GM’s response to reports of their early Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion models inadvertently shutting the car “off” while driving due to an ignition cylinder that was, simply, too easy to turn out of the “run” position; and in the case of several accidents, allowed the ignition cylinder to rotate out of the run condition before or during accidents, causing the airbags to not deploy when required.

The documents, totaling 619 pages (some with repeat info), reveal just how deep seated “old GM” was in their cost cutting ways (Driving down supplier costs to the point of sacrificing quality, admittedly poorly designed ignition cylinder, and removing internal quality control on the parts), and just how blind sided “new GM” was during their investigations. It also confirms how suspended engineers Ray DeGiorgio and Gary Altman were involved in the ignition switch response, and fuzzy problem solving. Full text and an analysis of key documents below.

We already know the basics of how this happened, but it’s still surprising just how ingrained GM was in putting the issue aside. The key issues are these:

  • GM became aware of the ignition issue in the 2001 preproduction Saturn Ion and the 2005 preproduction Chevrolet Cobalt.
  • Gary Altman initiated the report that lead to the insert, and Ray DeGiorgio consulted on the fix and argued against ignition switch changes.
  • Many different options were proposed, including suggestions from Delphi.
  • Cost played a major role in the decision to not recall the ignition switch early on.
  • The later key insert was the result, and was seen not as a fix, but as a “containment.”
  • GM also had very little oversight on parts from Delphi, only relying on Delphi’s incomplete testing.
  • GM’s engineers knowingly put the cars to market with a defective ignition switch.
  • This lead to ISB #05-02-35-007.
  • In 2006, DeGiorgio eventually signed off on design changes for Delphi, that included a stronger spring and plunger for the detent mechanism in the ignition cylinder, which provides a physical resistance between the different key positions.
  • When implemented in 2007, the new ignition cylinders cost less than a dollar per unit more than the original design; $400,000 to retool the production lines. These are the same changes that were deemed “not an acceptable business case” in 2005
  • As company, however, no one knew who signed off on the change until the Melton family lawsuit.
  • In court, DeGiorgio testified that he was unaware of changes to the ignition cylinder that would have effected the detents, only mentioning the key change..
  • Later investigations showed that the Cobalt had a substantial number of airbag warranty claims.
  • Higher level GM representatives broadsided by NHTSA’s investigations and disapproval of their slow reaction to other recent recalls.

First up, Gary Altman’s and Ray Giorgio’s role in the ignition cylinder issue is a problem. In court, Altman claimed that he did not feel that the Melton’s car was “unsafe.” This coming after submitting the initial mechanical complaint about the ignition falling out of run, in 2004:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf
During the investigation, several different approaches to modify the ignition cylinder were brought up to DeGiorgio. All of which were quickly dismissed by DeGiorgio, because the switch was already “very fragile,”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (1)
Later on, all fixes were dropped, as it wasn’t deemed necessary. With a tight deadline and budget, the engineers could not justify any of the fixes at the time, as it wasn’t an “acceptable business case.”

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (2) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (3) docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD017.pdf (4)

In 2006, DeGiorgio finally signed off on a design change for Delphi. The design change included  a stronger spring and longer detent plunger to increase the force needed to switch the key between different positions, along with an unrelated electrical upgrade. In an unexplained move, DeGiorgio did not assign a new part number to the improved switch design. The design change added 90 cents to the parts cost, and about $400,000 in tooling costs.

 

cobalt report 3
docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD047.pdf (1)

But, with this large of a role in the decision to delay the redesigned ignition switch, DeGiorgio claimed that he was not aware of any mechanical changes to the switches during his testimony in the Melton family suit against GM:

docs.house.gov meetings IF IF02 20140401 102033 HHRG-113-IF02-20140401-SD056.pdf
Though, he did sign off on the changes, and worked with Delphi to test batches of ignition cylinders that contained an upgraded PCB (Printed Circuit Board), and detent plunger:

cobalt report 14

democrats.energycommerce.house.gov sites default files documents GM-Commodity-Validation-Sign-Off-2006-4-26.pdf

 

Curiously enough, though, is that GM had very little oversight on Delphi’s quality control, and Delphi did not check the rotational torque needed to turn past the switches detents. GM simply accepted Delphi’s parts and trusted their QC. But with rumored tensions between GM and Delphi, it’s said that cost cutting measures might be to blame as GM forced Delphi to push prices down, sacrificing parts quality. If this were true, GM’s choice to outsource QC to the supplier left them in the dark for too long, preventing them from seeing the immediate effects of their problems with Delphi:

cobalt report 4cobalt report 18

While this was going on, GM released the key insert as a “containment solution;” it would be the minimum needed to alleviate the problem for effected customers. This was chosen over two other modifications to the ignition cylinder, which were seen as a “partial solution” in the case of adding an additional detent mechanism to add more resistance to rotating the key out of park, and a “sure solution” involving moving the ignition switch higher up on the column, using a gear drive system to reach the rotary switch responsible for selecting which electrical circuit to run on. The added gearing would also increase rotational torque, the design stated.
cobalt report 11
cobalt report 12cobalt report 13
In 2007, the NHTSA began to probe into the surprising number of airbag-related complaints, despite “GM’s indications that they see no specific pattern.”
cobalt report 15

The issue was set aside, for the most part, until GM was informed by the Melton suit that there was a possible design change in the switch, based on an investigation into junkyard-found switches from the effected models. The testing showed that there was a noticeable change in detent torque, but no documentation from GM to show the changes. The GM engineers and representatives in the case were caught off guard by this design change, and began an internal investigation. This investigation lead GM engineer Brian Stouffer to find the documents that showed DeGiorgio signing off on design changes with no part number change.

cobalt report 5cobalt report 16
Finally, the most impressive point of this story comes from GM’s reactions to the NHTSA’s investigations. The NHTSA emailed GM asking for clarification on several other recalls, documenting GM’s reactions to other product issues with a disdain for GM’s penchant for doing the least amout possible to avoid full recalls; ie: regional recalls for parts failures in the rust-belt states. Saying that some were broadsided by this information would be an understatement:

cobalt report 19[...]
cobalt report 19

The response by Mike Robinson, VP for environment, energy and safety policy, sums up GM’s perception and confusion over their responses to the Cobalt issue, and several other poor recall responses in the past. “This note from NHTsA, both the content and tone, comes like a bolt out of the blue,” he states, “We worked way too hard to earn a reputation as the best and we are not going to let this slide.”

cobalt report 19
To summarize, GM is its own worst enemy. They responded poorly to incredibly early reports, dismissing the issue too quickly as a casual problem. With reports going back to 2001, during the Saturn Ion development, there is no reason why the switch should have come unmodified to the Cobalt development; never mind the dismissal of the problem before the car was produced. Ray DeGiorgio’s role in this problem is larger than he initially lead on in the Melton case, though his motive in this discrepancy is unknown at this time.

Full text to all 619 pages can be find here.

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New York 2014: 2015 Dodge Challenger Gets Badly Needed Upgrades http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-challenger-gets-badly-needed-upgrades/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-challenger-gets-badly-needed-upgrades/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:57:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801914 From Front to back: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Challenger 3

 

Dodge’s long-rumored 6.4L supercharged Challenger isn’t coming to New York, but there are a number of important upgrades for 2015.

The big news for 2015 is the addition of the 8-speed automatic across the broad, a long awaited upgrade to the Challenger. An upgraded electrical architecture allows better implementation of UConnect as well as electric power steering with three selectable modes. Eight trim levels are now available, with new Shaker and Scat Pack models available with the 5.7L and 6.4L V8 on the Shaker, while the Scat Pack gets the 6.4L engine exclusively. The 6.4L engine gets a bump to 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft on the Scat Pack. Dodge is claiming that the 8-speed Scat Pack model can hit 60 mph in the low 4-second range.

Shaker models get a Super Track Pack suspension package, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, sport seats and a very retro graphics package – indeed, Dodge is going long on the retro theme for the 2015 upgrades.

2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT / R/T Plus (shown in Pearl/Black) with 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT / R/T Plus (shown in Pearl/Black) with 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus (shown in Ruby Red/Black) 2015 Dodge Challenger with eight-speed automatic 2015 Dodge Challenger “Tic-Toc-Tach”-inspired gauges 2015 Dodge Challenger 2015 Dodge Challenger trunk 2015 Dodge Challenger – 1971-inspired full-length stitch trape 2015 Dodge Challenger Uconnect SiriusXM Travel Link 2015 Dodge Challenger rear ¾ home screen 2015 Dodge Challenger Uconnect 3-D navigation icon 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Classic Ruby Red suede-leather 2015 Dodge Challenger TorqueFlite 8-speed electronic shifter 2015 Dodge Challenger 6-speed manual shifter 2015 Dodge Challenger 6-speed manual shifter 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 7-inch TFT 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT Clockwise starting from top: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Dod From Left to Right: 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack S From Left to Right: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Dodge Challe From Left to Right: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Dodge Challe From Front to Back: 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack S From Left to Right: 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack S From Front to back: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, 2015 Challenger 3 From Left to Right: 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack S ]]>
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QOTD: Volkswagen Golf GTD Looking Less Likely For America – Is The Audi A3 To Blame? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-volkswagen-golf-gtd-looking-less-likely-for-america-is-the-audi-a3-to-blame/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/qotd-volkswagen-golf-gtd-looking-less-likely-for-america-is-the-audi-a3-to-blame/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 13:42:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=802082 2014-volkswagen-golf-gtd

Despite promises of the Volkswagen Golf GTD making its way to America, Automotive News is reporting that the prospect of VW’s diesel hot hatch arriving in America is looking like a dim prospect.

According to AN, the high output version of VW’s 2.0L TDI engine can’t be built in Volkswagen’s Mexican factory that supplies the engines for Golf in North America (though it does build the standard TDI engine). Although VW wouldn’t elaborate, the cost of the GTD (factoring in the engine, which would have to be imported from Germany), would make the GTD cost prohibitive for North America.

On the other hand, VW will have no less than three additional hatchbacks for North America: a lower priced version of the Golf TDI, a TDI Golf Sportwagen and the Audi A3 TDI Sportback. Given the small market share for diesels, it’s possible that Volkswagen is satisfied that these models will sufficiently cover the diesel hatchback market in America.

Previous, VW was projecting that the GTD would account for as much as 10 percent of Golf TDI sales. But it’s possible that VW was scared off by a last-minute product plan change over at Audi. The A3 TDI Sportback wasn’t initially planned for America, but enthusiast demand apparently spurred Audi to import it to America.

The A3 TDI will likely run close to the GTD’s projected $27,000 price tag – close enough that VW may have been worried about cannibalization between the two cars. Unlike Europe, America has neither the demand for diesels, hatchbacks or manuals (the A3 TDI is only offered with a dual-clutch transmission) to support two similarly priced entrants with little differentiation.

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New York 2014: 2015 Dodge Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:56:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801562 2015 Dodge Charger R/T

Although the 2015 Dodge Charger is largely unchanged mechanically, it gets a whole new look.

SXT V6 models equipped with Rallye Appearance Group gets a power bump to 300 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque due to a cold air intake, an upgraded exhaust and a tweaked ECU. Aside from that, the changes are mostly cosmetic.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T

 

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Tesla Charging Station Coming To Carl’s Jr. In Gila Bend, Arizona http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/tesla-charging-station-coming-to-carls-jr-in-gila-bend-arizona/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:18:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801170  Gila Bend 2

Pity poor Tesla Motors. The General Motors recall crisis has knocked the electric automaker out of the auto industry headlines. There were times when half the news stories on industry feeds like this one would be about Tesla. TTAC is here to help get the company back on track to maintaining their 3:1 News Stories-To-Cars Sold Ratio.

The above picture was taken in the parking lot of a Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant in dusty, desolate Gila Bend, Arizona. If you have ever been to Gila Bend you can attest to the fact that the shot is actually in color.

It was quite a jolt to spot this under-construction Tesla Supercharger station in Gila Bend this week as I was headed towards California. It proves Tesla is well on its way to building a coast-to-coast network of charging outlets. Gila Bend sits between San Diego and Tucson on I-8 at the turnoff for Phoenix, so West Coast owners on their way to Phoenix can stop here or at the Hilton Garden Inn in Yuma, Arizona to “fill up.” (Curiously, Tesla’s website currently shows no San Diego chargers or any in Tucson.)

I am sure that part of Tesla’s strategy to is locate its Superchargers at the most upscale establishments available with easy access to the interstates. In Gila Bend the best place in town is this greasy burger chain. It will certainly be a new experience for Tesla drivers to eat a Western X-tra Bacon Thickburger or walk next door to the Love’s Truck Stop during their 75 minute stopover. Certainly, members of the Tesla Motors Club are excited about Gila Bend.

If Tesla should ever go out of business, perhaps due to having no traditional dealer network as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon suggested yesterday, or due to an end to their subsidies from the government, their charging station stanchions will become as collectable as Route 66 signs.

I want one from Gila Bend.

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At Toyota, Craftsmen Get Hands-On In Search Of Innovation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/at-toyota-craftsmen-get-hands-on-in-search-of-innovation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/at-toyota-craftsmen-get-hands-on-in-search-of-innovation/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:17:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801290 Toyota factory near hard-hit Sendai. Picture courtesy cbsnews.com

Twenty years ago, as a young Merchant Mariner, I was sent to Japan where the ship I was assigned to, the Sea-Land Spirit, was undergoing a major refit. The ship had begun life as a LASH ship, a vessel that carried cargo-filled barges which it offloaded from its stern via huge, rail mounted cranes that ran on tracks down the length of its deck, and now, after the demise of that business model, it was being converted it into a container ship.

Prior to the refit, the ship had been virtually abandoned, left to rot in some bayside backwater for many years, and it had taken a pounding from the elements. To get it back into service, the ship was towed to Korea where it underwent most of the major modifications, after which it was then taken to the giant Mitsubishi works in Kobe, Japan for the final touches. It was there, so I was told, that Japanese laborers called into question the quality of the Korean’s work. Some of the massive steel braces that had been welded to the deck, they found, were as much as a centimeter off. Shocked by the poor quality of their counterparts’ work, the Japanese shipyard workers cut the braces off the deck, moved them a fraction of an inch and welded them down again.

Photo courtesy of cdn2.shipspotting.com

Photo courtesy of cdn2.shipspotting.com

The Japanese have a reputation for doing things right. Who else could take an iron ore of questionable quality and forge it into blades renowned for their strength, flexibility and sharpness? Who, but the Japanese, could take a pasty skinned, round face little girl and turn her into an object of enduring sexual desire? All cultures make things, but it is only in Japan that the making of things, “monozukuri” is elevated into an art unto itself, and where skilled craftsmen, who spend their entire lives honing their craft to perfection, become “gods.”

In recent years, however, thanks to the amount of production that has been handed over to robots, the number of “gods” on the factory floor has dwindled. Toyota, in particular, has noticed the problem and, according to a recent Bloomberg article, the company if now taking steps to reverse what it sees as a new form of brain drain by taking jobs away from robots and giving them back to men. The logic is slyly simple but infinitely deep, craftsmen, it goes, will always look for ways to innovate, always seek out easier more efficient methods and even find ways to reduce waste while robots can only do what they are programmed to do.

robots.jpg

Over the past three years, the article continues, Toyota has introduced more than 100 “manual-intensive” workplaces at factories all around Japan. In one of the sections, men manually turn and hammer red hot steel as it is forged into crankshafts in much the same way that Henry Ford’s workers once did. True to form, the men in the section have been watching and learning and the result of their efforts has been a 10 percent reduction in material waste and a shortening of the production line that will soon be applied to the automated processes used to make crankshafts in the next generation Prius Hybrid.

There is no doubt that the robots are here to stay, but Toyota’s recent experiments show that keeping humans closely engaged in the process can pay real dividends. By empowering workers and encouraging them to become skilled craftsmen who truly understand what it takes to build cars, Toyota is setting the stage for innovation. It is, I think, a uniquely Japanese solution but it could be applied here in North America as well. Despite the many people who decry the lack of skills and poor work ethic of the North American factory worker, I believe that there are a great many men and women in our factories who would jump at the chance to work harder. Everyone, I think, wants to be valued and most people want to make a difference. This could work here too, maybe some of our own best and brightest should take a look at what’s going on.

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New York 2014: 25 Years Of Miatas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-25-years-of-miatas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-25-years-of-miatas/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:47:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801026 311A9585

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mazda MX-5, Mazda brought out a number of historically significant Miatas. Some, like the Coupe Concept (above), the Mazdaspeed MX-5 and the Super 20 are well known.

 

But how about the 500,000th car produced, or the 1998 prototype that eventually became the 1999 Miata? They’re all in the gallery below.

311A9584 311A9585 311A9586 311A9588 311A9589 311A9592 311A9593 311A9595 311A9596 311A9598 311A9600 311A9601 311A9602 311A9603 311A9604 ]]>
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New York 2014: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-volkswagen-jetta-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-volkswagen-jetta-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:59:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800898 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-13

Though the 2015 Volkswagen Jetta bowing at the 2014 New York Auto Show may be refreshed, most of the work may just be too subtle to notice at first.

Updates to the outgoing model include LED running lights for daytime cruising, new tail and trunk lighting, revised rain gutters, and underbody shrouding.

Under the hood, three gasoline engines and one turbodiesel help move the Jetta along. The all new 2-liter TDI with a six-speed manual holds a combined 37 mpg while pushing 150 horses with 236 lb-ft of torque through the front wheels.

Inside, the biggest change is an upgrade in technology for the Jetta, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive front lighting with Bi-Xenon headlamps, and rear cross-traffic alert. Other interior upgrades include new fabrics, air vent controls and ambient lighting.

The new Jetta will arrive in U.S. showrooms Q3 2014.

2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-01 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-02 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-03 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-04 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-11 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-13 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-15 2015-Volkswagen-Jetta-16 ]]>
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New York 2014: 2015 Hyundai Sonata Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-hyundai-sonata-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-hyundai-sonata-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800810 2015-Hyundai-Sonata-10

Unveiled in South Korea last month, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata made its United States debut during the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The sedan, set to roll out of Hyundai’s Montgomery, Ala. plant this summer, offers an improved ride quality thanks to a stiffer chassis and lower co-efficient of drag. Up front, either a 2.4-liter naturally aspirated four-pot or turbocharged 2-liter put less power to the front wheels than the previous generation of engines, with the former creating 185 horsepower and 178 lb-ft of torque while the latter churning 245 horsepower and 260 lb-ft torque. Both engines are forever linked to a six-speed automatic.

Those opting for the turbo-four can add the Sport trim to their Sonata, bringing bigger brakes, 18-inch alloy wheels, quad exhaust, and more aggressive bodywork to the package.

Stepping inside the sedan, those who test-drove the Genesis sedan may feel a sense of deja-vu thanks to the driver-oriented center stack. Meanwhile, Hyundai will be offering a number of safety conveniences for the Sonata, including blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and rear cross-traffic alert.

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New York 2014: 2015 Acura TLX Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-acura-tlx-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800698 2015-Acura-TLX-22

As the Acura TL and TSX are both dropped into the crusher of history, their replacement, the production-ready 2015 TLX, took the stage today at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Having made its world debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show earlier this year, the TLX in New York will retain the former’s beak nose and bejeweled headlamps on its way to the showroom later this year.

As for what future TLX drivers will receive, two engines will put the power to either the front or all four wheels: 2.4-liter four-pot with 206 horsepower and 182 lb-ft of torque through an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission, and 3.5-liter V6 producing 290 horsepower and 267 lb-ft of torque through a nine-speed automatic. The four-cylinder FWD model will be augmented by Acura’s PAWS all-wheel steering system, while the V6 receives the SH-AWD handling system when AWD is selected on the options list. Combined fuel economy is expected to be 28 mpg for the 2.4-liter 4, 25 mpg for both FWD and AWD V6 models.

Inside, drivers will enjoy soft-touch plastics, wood and alloy accenting, leather, Acura’s AcuraLink infotainment system, GPS-linked climate control, and premium stereo sound.

And the price? Acura will make that announcement closer to the launch of the TLX.

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New York 2014: 2015 Nissan Murano Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-nissan-murano-revealed-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-nissan-murano-revealed-2/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 21:52:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800586 2015-Nissan-Murano-10

The 2015 Nissan Murano showed off its new looks before the world at the 2014 New York Auto Show, and brought some improvements to the table, as well.

The Murano has a 3.5-liter V6 putting 260 horsepower to the front or all four corners through its CVT, weighs 130 pounds less than the outgoing Murano, and should match said crossover in fuel economy at around 18 city/24 highway.

Outside, the crossover boasts Nissan’s new design language, including “boomerang” head- and tail lamps, while the inside proclaims 60 percent less stitching in the upholstery and an infotainment system featuring 11 Bose speakers.

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New York 2014: 2015 BMW M4 Convertible Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-m4-convertible-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-m4-convertible-unveiled/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:53:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800498 2015-BMW-M4-Convertible-07

There was more than one high-performance convertible taking its top off at the 2014 New York Auto Show today, as the 2015 BMW M4 Convertible made its grand entrance among those attending.

The M4 boasts a retractable metal roof, perfect for deterring thieves so long as the roof is up and the thieves aren’t particularly motivated. Meanwhile, power comes from a twin-turbo 3-liter I6 driving 425 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque through either a single-clutch six-speed manual or optional M-DCT seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. Either option brings the M4 Convertible from nil to 60 in under 4.5 seconds.

As for weight and performance, BMW used aluminium and carbon fiber-reinforced plastic throughout its construction — from the fenders and hood, to the driveshaft and front strut brace — bringing the beast down 90 pounds to 4,055 for the U.S. market.

The M4 Convertible should arrive in showrooms this summer, though no word thus far on how much it will cost to do burnouts under the sun.

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New York 2014: 2015 MINI Countryman Debuted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mini-countryman-debuted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mini-countryman-debuted/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:53:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800442 2015-MINI-Countryman-Cooper-S-8

The biggest MINI of them all, the Countryman, debuted its refreshed looks for the guests at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The compact SUV still rides on its current platform, and still uses the 1.6-liter four-pot that pushes anywhere from 121 to 208 horsepower, depending upon whether the owner selects the Cooper, Cooper S or John Cooper Works trims. A six-speed manual is standard on all, with a six-speed auto available for a few more dollars. All-wheel drive is optional for the Cooper and Cooper S, standard for the John Cooper Works model.

Starting price for the 2015 Countryman is expected to be around $23,000, and will arrive in showrooms this July.

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New York 2014: 2015 Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-scion-fr-s-release-series-1-0-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-scion-fr-s-release-series-1-0-unveiled/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 18:26:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800370 2015-Scion-FRS-RS-1_0-03

Tucked away in the darkened Scion section at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the 2015 Scion FR-S Release Series 1.0 may light up the room with its bright yellow paint, but the owner will still have to be the one to make it light up its tires.

The Release Series 1.0 — limited to 1,500 examples — comes with a number of Toyota Racing Development enhancements, such as a new aero kit, lowered springs, the aforementioned yellow “Yuzu” paint, and a quad-tip exhaust. However, the song remains the same under the hood: a 2-liter flat-four pushing 200 horses and 151 lb-ft of torque to the back through either a six-speed auto or manual.

Price of admission for the the limited edition series will be around $30,000.

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New York 2014: 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG Coupe Debuted http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mercedes-benz-s63-amg-coupe-debuted/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-mercedes-benz-s63-amg-coupe-debuted/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:34:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799778 2015-Mercedes-S63-AMG-Coupe-01

For the well-moneyed customer who likes the Accord but prefers a German badge, Mercedes-Benz unveiled the S63 AMG Coupe at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

Under the bonnet lies a twin-turbo 5.5-liter V8 driving 577 ponies through all four wheels while providing 644 lb-ft of torque to any driver feeling the need to take down a redwood forest or two. Air suspension, lighter weight and optional ceramic brakes add to the performance alongside the usual AMG enhancements.

As for how much to pay for this experience, look forward to spending somewhere around $150,000 when the S63 AMG Coupe arrives in showrooms.

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New York 2014: 2015 Ford Focus Sedan Unveiled http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-ford-focus-sedan-unveiled/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-ford-focus-sedan-unveiled/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:34:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=800058 2015-Ford-Focus-02

In Geneva, we saw the world debut of the 2015 Ford Focus hatchback. At the 2014 New York Auto Show, it’s the 2015 Focus Sedan’s turn to be unveiled.

Like the hatchback, the sedan now boasts the new nose found on the likes of the Fusion and Fiesta, while under the hood will include a 2-liter four-pot or — for the U.S. market — the 1-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder, both of which will be mated to a new six-speed manual. An SE Sport Package will also be available, swaping the manual for an automatic with paddle shifters in addition to tuning upgrades for the suspension and 17-inch wheels.

Safety features on-board include a standard rearview camera paired with a choice of two monitors, blind-spot monitoring and lane-keep assist.

Both the hatchback and sedan will enter U.S. showrooms early in 2015.

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New York 2014: 2015 BMW X4 Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-x4-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-bmw-x4-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:33:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799946 2015-BMW-X4-06

For those who wanted an X6 in a smaller package, BMW revealed its new X4 Sports Activity Coupe crossover at the 2014 New York Auto Show.

The X4 can be had as either the xDrive28i for a base entry of $45,625, or for about $3,000 more, the xDrive35i. Both trims come with an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, but the 28i posseseses a 2-liter turbo-four capaable of 240 horsepower under its bonnet, while the 35i makes do with a 300-horsepower I6.

Further enhancements can be had with X4′s M Sport Package, including tighter suspension and unique seats, while its less-useful trunk can be opened with a wave of your foot — perfect for doing the hokey-pokey after a bit of grocery shopping at Whole Foods Market.

Expect the X4 to give it you later this spring.

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New York 2014: 2015 Corvette Z06 Convertible Live Shots http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-corvette-z06-convertible-live-shots/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-corvette-z06-convertible-live-shots/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 17:33:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799682 2015-Chevrolet-Z06-Convertible-12

Turning up alongside the new-for-United States Chevrolet Trax, the 2015 Corvette Z06 posed topless before the cameras at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Speaking of, the top can be raised at speeds of up to 30 mph, while the car itself can go from naught to 60 in 3.5 seconds; the time matches that of the hardtop variant.

As for what’s under the more airy clothes, a chassis that is 20 percent stiffer than the hardtop, upon which rests the same 6.2-liter V8 pushing approximately 625 horsepower and 635 lb-ft of torque toward the back tires. The engine will be mated with a choice of either a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic, the latter’s fast shifts could prove venerable on the track once a roll bar is installed.

The Z06, in both guises, will arrive sometime in 2015, and can be upgraded with the Z07′s list of goodies, with Chevrolet providing an open options list for future owners.

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New or Used : Tastes Of The Weird http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-tastes-of-the-weird/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-or-used-tastes-of-the-weird/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:28:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799402 beachsideresident

Steve L., just a short note to thank you for your TTAC articles. They are my favorite at TTAC and I look forward to a new article each week.

Quick question: I noted in your last article you like some of the newer Mazdas. Can you tell me what new Mazda you would consider keeping for your own personal vehicle?

regards, Steve T.

The Other Steve Says:

My personal tastes are probably a quick study in the saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

I like weird stuff. Part of the blame lies in the fact that the wholesale auctions are slam packed with the lemmings of modern day transport. There will often be a line of 30 to 60 cars at the factory sales where the same exact model will be offered with minimal changes in features and specs. The strength of rental cars at auctions also skews me away from the common place car, which is why the rolling Big Mac Value Meal that is/was the Chevy Impala doesn’t raise my eyebrows.

What interests me Mazda wise? I like the Mazda 2. If you are careful with the spec sheet, you can get one out the door for under 15k. One of the regulars here bought one recently for less than $14,000 out the door, and made a nice pithy summation of it’s virtues, “The 100HP is plenty. The stereo is outstanding. The controls, shifter, it all works, and none of it makes you feel like you gave up anything.”

A generic popular car is not my thing because every day I’m surrounded by overproduced generic popular cars. What interests me is a Ford Fiesta hatchback. A base Mazda 3 with a stick that I likely won’t see at the auctions for a while. Even the new base Corolla with a 6-speed would interest me on paper because it offers the better engine and shifter of the high end model and cost about $5000 less.

If I had to buy new I would keep it cheap and try to hit em’ where they ain’t. Not because I want the deal. But because I just don’t value touchscreens, over-sized A-pillars, and a car that I can’t maintain myself. The cars I keep at the retail lot reflect my weirdness compared with mainstream consumers. 20% are sticks, and I always seem to have a couple of offbeat ones (Solara V6 /5-speed, green Beetle TDI) on hand that I buy for low prices, due to their lack of mainstream popularity.

Small, stick, powered for real-world performance, and preferably in the last year or two of production. Throw in easy access for basic DIY maintenance, and you pretty much have my perfect recipe for the in-town commuting and smooth Georgia roads I see on a daily basis.

So what about you? What would be the perfect ingredients for your new car recipe? Does anything in particular strike your fancy?

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New York 2014: 2015 Toyota Camry Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-toyota-camry-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-toyota-camry-revealed/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:27:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799506 2015-Toyota-Camry-18

Toyota’s champion revealed its new look before the world and those in attendance at the 2014 New York Auto Show. Beneath the new Camry’s updated, more aggressive appearance, Toyota added spot welds throughout the chassis for added stiffness as well as a revised suspension, all of which is aimed at improving handling and ride quality.

The SE trim will continue going into the 2015 model year, paired alongside the premium XSE, while the hybrid will receive some of the SE’s performance goodies when all three enter showrooms later this year. The engine options will remain the same, however: 2.5-liter four-pot, 3.5-liter V6, and 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid motor.

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New York 2014: Mazda Shows Next MX-5′s Chassis http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-mazda-shows-next-mx-5s-chassis/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-mazda-shows-next-mx-5s-chassis/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:02:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799418 2016-Mazda-mx5

 

Those wild rumors of Mazda doing a surprise debut of the next MX-5 turned out to be false – anyone with an understanding of modern automotive PR tactics knows that no launch is conducted without a relentless hype campaign. But at least they threw us a bone.

Mazda claims that this chassis, which underpins the next MX-5, will shed 220 lbs from the weight of the current car (which weighs in at around 2480 lbs), with an engine that sits lower and further back. The lighter weight, which is closer to that of the first-gen Miata, and the power bump from the new Skyactiv engine (assuming it’s the 2.0L 155 horsepower engine used in multiple cars) means the power-to-weight ratio should up in an appreciable manner.

For those who still want the current car (and judging by the sales figures, there’s not too many of you), Mazda has launched a new 25th anniversary edition of the MX-5. Only 100 units will be made available, in a special red-on-black paint scheme, with special alloy wheels and Bilstein dampers as standard.

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New York 2014: Chevrolet Makes Trax With New B-Segment Crossover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-chevrolet-makes-trax-with-new-b-segment-crossover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-chevrolet-makes-trax-with-new-b-segment-crossover/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 05:18:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799298 2015-Chevrolet-Trax-7_edited-1

 

It’s impolite to gloat, but we called the introduction of the Chevrolet Trax back in March. It’s nice to be right once in a while.

Using the same underpinnings and 1.4L drivetrain as the Buick Encore, the Trax will go up against the Jeep Renegade, Nissan Juke, Honda Vezel and other entrants in the subcompact crossover segment. The Korean-made Trax is already on sale in Canada, starting at about $17,000 USD. That price probably won’t change much when it comes to America. Though versions with AWD and more equipment will get pricier.

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New York 2014: Audi Announces A3 TDI Sportback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-audi-announces-a3-tdi-sportback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-audi-announces-a3-tdi-sportback/#comments Wed, 16 Apr 2014 04:59:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799258  

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Audi will bring a diesel version of the A3 Sportback to America, using the same 2.0L TDI engine as the upcoming Golf.

 

With 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft, the A3 TDI is sure to be a stout little hatchback, but the lack of a manual transmission is a bit perplexing. Even though manual transmissions are on the decline, one would expect that TDI buyers are more inclined to row their own gears. At least the 6-speed S-Stronic dual-clutch gearbox isn’t so bad.

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Cain’s Segments: Canada Recap April 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cains-segments-canada-recap-april-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/cains-segments-canada-recap-april-2014/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:23:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=799090 TTAC-Q1-Canada-recap-chart-best-selling-SUVs
March 2014’s Canadian auto sales results displayed a further willingness on the part of buyers to gradually forsake cars and turn to smaller crossovers.

Despite the increased strength of the Toyota Tundra and Ram Pickup range, pickup truck sales growth has stalled, and indeed reversed.

Year-over-year, minivans are getting back into the swing of things, but not to the extent that they’re selling as well as they did two years ago.

Although sales at BMW, the second-ranked luxury brand through the first quarter, are down slightly this year, overall premium brand auto sales are up 7% in a market that’s managed less than a 1% improvement over the last three months. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi own 52% of the market for luxury auto brand vehicles. Mercedes-Benz has the advantage in Canada of not just selling a new entry-level sedan, the CLA, but also the more popular entry-level hatchback B-Class, which accounts for 16% of Mercedes-Benz passenger car sales.

Canadians are very nearly as willing to support traditional Detroit-based brands as their neighbours to the south – GM, FoMoCo, Chrysler/FCA own 45% of 2014’s U.S. market, 44% – but the same does not go for Cadillac and Lincoln. Cadillac is America’s fourth-ranked premium brand, but Cadillac slides to seventh in Canada. Lincoln ranks ninth in Canada, but in the U.S., where Lincoln volume is 19 times stronger, it moves up to eighth. Land Rover sales are 52% stronger than Lincoln sales in Canada, while Lincoln sales in the U.S. are 65% stronger than Land Rover sales. 1.6% of the new vehicles sold in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014 were Cadillacs and Lincolns; only 0.8% in Canada.

Canadians still made Ford the top-selling auto brand in Q1 of 2014. Ford brand sales tumbled 11% in March and 8% in Q1, however, as first quarter car sales slid 22% and the F-Series, approaching replacement, fell 6%. (YOY, Ford’s share of a pickup truck market that’s down 2.5% has fallen from 38% to 37%.) The Fusion is currently Canada’s second-best-selling midsize car after leading the category in calendar year 2013. In fact, the Mustang is the only Ford car product to record a year-over-year sales increase in Q1.

As a whole, Ford Canada was outsold by the Chrysler family of brands in each of the last three months. (GM Canada outsold Ford/Lincoln in December.) Ford had become the usual leader, but even with the Chrysler Group’s total lack of car success in 2014, Dodge/Ram/Jeep/Chrysler/Fiat have opened up a 7726-unit lead through three months. Chrysler Canada says their car sales are down 21% this year. Even if we exclude the 200 and Avenger (about to be replaced and defunct, respectively) from the equation, the company’s car sales were down 1%.

But the Ram truck lineup, Dodge’s Grand Caravan, and the Jeep brand currently account for seven out of every ten Chrysler Canada sales, and the volume achieved by that group is up 12% in 2014. Minivan sales in Q1, 65% of which came from the Grand Caravan and Town & Country, are up 7%.

Cars are still capable of succeeding in the Canadian auto market. Sales of the best-selling Civic, Canada’s third-best-selling vehicle overall, are up 10% this year. Yet cars are currently responsible for less than 41% of the industry’s volume, and the decline can be spotted in the Civic’s closest rival, the Hyundai Elantra, which is down 9%. Hyundai and Kia, which combine to sell more passenger cars in Canada than any other automotive conglomerate by far, have seen their car sales slide 9%.

As a symbol of the tussle between traditional passenger cars and newfangled crossovers, consider the BMW 3-Series and Audi Q5. No other premium brand products have sold as often as this pair. They’re tied for the lead as Canada’s top-selling luxury brand automobiles through three months. With 1664 sales each, they’re not uncommon: only 53 nameplates have generated greater volume in early 2014.

The Q5 is playing on the winning side. 55% of vehicles sold in Canada in 2014 by Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Lincoln, and their luxury rivals have been SUVs or crossovers of one kind or another.

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Coffee and Cars, or Cars and Coffee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/coffee-and-cars-or-cars-and-coffee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/coffee-and-cars-or-cars-and-coffee/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 12:30:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798546 IMG_7500

You don’t have to be interested in coffee to appreciate Cars and Coffee. You don’t even have to be that interested in cars. But if you haven’t attended one, you are missing one of the great grassroots events this grand land of ours has to offer. It is an unfettered melting pot of every gearhead facet of interest and a decidedly pleasant experience you can enjoy with the entire family.

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During my recent years out of the country this was the event I missed more than any other. I pined for it more than track days, autocross and LeMons. The beauty of Cars and Coffee is the variation of the enthusiasts that attend and the non-competitive nature of the event. It is just folks talking about their cars and other people’s cars. There are exotics, classics, off roaders, drifters and racers. You will see works in progress, back yard hot rods, billet fans, bikes and lowriders.

The original started in Irvine California as a group of folks with cool cars just started getting together back in 2005. That earliest gathering has grown to a regulated event with over 500 cars at each hosting.

But more importantly, it was the seed that has spread nationwide. Google Cars and Coffee, usually the local one will pop up on the first page, or search for Cars and Coffee and your hometown on Facebook. Sometimes, its Coffee and Cars.

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I discovered the Oklahoma City version in 2011. It was close to my house, at a Starbucks located at the end of a retail center. In my absence, it grew too large for that space and has relocated to an older mall a few miles away. No coffee, but sometimes an enterprising youth organization will show up with Krispy Kremes as a fundraiser.

The OKC Cars and Coffee is the first Sunday of every month from 8 AM until 10. This month it was the 6th and as luck would have it, it was the first nice Sunday of the year. It was pretty packed.

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The new rumor is that the mall will soon ask us to go somewhere else.

That’s a shame, because a food truck is missing a golden opportunity. A few breakfast burritos and coffee that doesn’t suck and you’ll carry out some serious cash. The previous location would have the line at Starbucks out the door. I am sure their manager is missing that level of business once a month.

Earlier this year, I got to take my 7-year old nephew. His favorite was of course a yellow “Bumblebee” Camaro. It’s not uncommon to folks with their dogs. As I said, it’s a family event.

This is a great event, the variations of the attendees is fantastic. The early event timing does wonders to keep out the idiots, and the atmosphere is friendly. It’s almost always free. So as the weather starts to thaw, look for your local coffee and cars, get up early one weekend, grab the family and just enjoy some cars.

Enjoying the coffee is optional.

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