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. Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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/ Tesla Opens Battery Swap Pilot Program In California http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/tesla-opens-battery-swap-pilot-program-california/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/tesla-opens-battery-swap-pilot-program-california/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963874 It’s official: As of this week, select Tesla Model S owners will be able to swap battery packs in a pilot program along the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The pack swaps will take place “at a custom-built facility” across from the automaker’s Supercharger station in Harris Ranch, Calif., with each scheduled swap […]

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It’s official: As of this week, select Tesla Model S owners will be able to swap battery packs in a pilot program along the route between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

The pack swaps will take place “at a custom-built facility” across from the automaker’s Supercharger station in Harris Ranch, Calif., with each scheduled swap to cost “slightly less” than a full tank of gas. The swaps are expected to take three minutes, due to the added time needed to remove the titanium and hardened aluminum plates protecting the pack.

The pilot program — announced in October of this year — is meant to test the systems used in the swap, as well as determine demand for such a procedure. Tesla states that with further refinements, a swap could take less than a minute to accomplish.

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Small MPVs In Rapid Canadian Sales Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/small-mpvs-rapid-canadian-sales-decline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/small-mpvs-rapid-canadian-sales-decline/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:45:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963074 GM Canada sold only 32 copies of its Chevrolet Orlando in November 2014, the worst month yet for the rapidly declining Mazda 5 alternative. Although the Orlando set an impressive sales pace in its first 18 months in Canada – 2612 were sold during 2012’s fourth-quarter – it’s been in free fall ever since. Sales […]

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2014 Mazda 5GM Canada sold only 32 copies of its Chevrolet Orlando in November 2014, the worst month yet for the rapidly declining Mazda 5 alternative.

Although the Orlando set an impressive sales pace in its first 18 months in Canada – 2612 were sold during 2012’s fourth-quarter – it’s been in free fall ever since. Sales have declined in 19 of the last 22 months. 2013 volume was down 68%. Through eleven months, Orlando volume in 2014 is off by 43%.

Initially, the second-generation Kia Rondo appeared ready for liftoff. Rondo volume through the first half of 2014 was up 62% to 3582 units. But Kia Canada sold only 1660 in the last five months, a 58% drop.

Kia sold nearly 10,000 Rondos in Canada both in 2008 and 2009, but without a big December turnaround, they likely won’t top the 6000-unit mark in 2014, the first time in the model’s history it will fail to climb beyond the 6K barrier.

To say the Mazda 5 has improved on its 2013 Canadian output is to say that the 5 is having its second-worst Canadian sales year since the mini-minivan arrived in 2005. Mazda sold 11,944 5s in its best Canadian sales year, 2008, but they likely won’t top 4000 units in 2014.

As a trio, these MPVs are down 12% this year to 10,115 units. (November volume tumbled 47% to just 510 units.) In a market that’s favoured each of them at different moments in the recent past, their combined failure to generate as many sales as, for example, the Honda Odyssey, is notable. Canada is, after all, a market that supposedly favours affordable, efficient, smaller vehicles, and it’s a market that’s registering more new vehicles than at any time in the country’s history.

Canada minivan sales chart November 2014 YTDThe affordability quotient plays a large role in the Dodge Grand Caravan’s overwhelming domination in Canada’s minivan market. Excluding the trio of mini-MPVs from the equation, the Grand Caravan owns 61% of Canada’s minivan market in 2014. (That figure rises to 72% when the Chrysler Town & Country is thrown into the mix.) The Odyssey, Kia Sedona, Nissan Quest, Toyota Sienna, and Town & Country combined for 30,543 sales over the first 11 months of 2014; the Grand Caravan shot up 11% to 48,619. With an advertised base price below $20,000 and full Stow’n’Go pricing below $27,000, the Grand Caravan doesn’t just take the dollars and cents fight to the Sienna and Odyssey but to the Orlando, Rondo, and 5, as well.

True, November was a particularly difficult month for the smaller trio. Even non-Chrysler/Dodge vans combined to outsell the Orlando/Rondo/5 by nearly three-to-one. Small crossover volume was booming, too, with Canada’s four top-selling small utility vehicles – Escape, RAV4, CR-V, Rogue – rising 29% to 13,604 units.

But can we expect any major change in the near future? Americans have now rejected the Mazda 5 and the Kia Rondo and are not permitted to welcome the Chevrolet Orlando. Yes, in some small measure, automakers are willing to cater to the unique Canadian market, but when the products are faltering, flopping, and failing, we can’t expect them to do so for long.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Piston Slap: High Profile Rubber, Lube with Real Silicone Spray? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-high-profile-rubber-lube-real-silicone-spray/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/piston-slap-high-profile-rubber-lube-real-silicone-spray/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:34:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963594   Bill writes: Hi Sajeev, {the usual crap about long time reader, first time poster} I know you just answered a few emails about tire / tire size, but this has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while (the efficient side of me), I’m going to send it off before you answer more […]

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Getting serious about Rubber and Lube. (photo courtesy: cargurus.com)

Bill writes:

Hi Sajeev,

{the usual crap about long time reader, first time poster} I know you just answered a few emails about tire / tire size, but this has been sitting in my drafts folder for a while (the efficient side of me), I’m going to send it off before you answer more questions about tires..

My first question to you was ORIGINALLY about my now departed ’97 Volvo 850 a few months back when you were asking for more questions, but I answered my own question after reaching 3 pages of problems and issues. So I traded it in, more or less at scrap value, for a ’09 Lexus GS450h which came with a nice set of performance summer tires at 245/40R18. And as they say, winter is coming, and I’d be foolish to drive a RWD with summer tires north of the 49th. I’m planning to run 2 sets of rims + tire, got my eyes on some not so shinny Nokian “Hakkapelitaeraerfdaf?” R2 tires, but they are $300 a pop at that size.

If I can minus size to 225/50R17, I’d save $40 per tire, 17″ rims are cheaper than 18″s, have more rubber for potholes, and something about skinnier tires dig deeper into the snow. For some odd reason, none of the Canadian online retailers list 225/50R17 as an option for my car. It’s odd since the base GS350 rolls on 225/50R17. The dealership down the street also only want to sell me 18″ tires. However, as far as I can tell, the GS350 and the GS450h have the same part numbers for the caliper and rotor, so if one can take a 17″ rim, both should be able to? To add to the mystery, TireRack in the US thinks 17″ will fit just fine. Unless the Canadian spec GS450h has a different rotor, I don’t understand how everyone in Canada could be wrong.

Since it’s in my nature to be efficient (lazy), I’d like to order the rims online (and I guess better selections). I guess my 2 questions are:

Should I minus size?
Will 17″ rims even fit?

Thanks,
Bill

Oh, sorry, I lied, 3rd question: Speed rating, does it matter? Do I need to match the speed rating on my winter tires with the rating on the OEM tires?

Sajeev answers:

1. Of course you should minus size!  92.3% of the people reading this should!  Unless you really like the look of the factory 18″ wheels, or larger wheels in general.  Everything gets better with the rubber-to-wheel ratio of that 225/50/17 for most applications and user demands.

2. Your part number analysis proves they will. If the rotor was bigger and the caliper was a different size…well they aren’t, they are gonna fit.

3. Tire speed rating is a red herring for 98.4% of you readers: have you noticed the lowest speed rating for passenger cars (i.e. not trailers and spare tires) is 112 mph? When was the last time you felt the need to spend the night in jail, son?  Especially on winter tires supposedly driven in winter conditions? Instead focus on tire quality via UTQG ratings.

Bill amends:

Hi Sajeev,

So I got lucky and my other toyota rolls on 17″ rim so I did a quick swap and confirmed tirerack is correct and 17″ fit just fine. Now I got another question, reading an earlier post of yours, “In Praise of the 2005 Honda CR-V“, I was going to lube up the rubber weatherstripping with silicon spray. When I started reading the label on the can I got scared by the warning, something about containing perchloroethylene and paraffinic petroleum. As far as I know [from using some other non automative product], petroleum based lube breaks down latex rubber. My google-fu is not strong enough to find out if those two chemicals are rubber safe or not, so does it matter what brand of spray I use? Are there any other lube related wisdoms you’d like to share? Thanks,

~Bill

Sajeev concludes:

You should get a non petroleum silicone spray, also known as “food grade.”  And no, not to lube the food, it’s for industrial machinery coming in contact with food.

I thought this stuff was also commonly found at auto parts stores, but perhaps those use petroleum-based chemical as a propellant?  And maybe perhaps the “spray it in a Styrofoam cup and see if the cup melts” test is a good idea. I wonder how bad a not-100% pure silicone spray is for rubber parts, it’ll certainly do better than WD-40 or similar.

No matter, find food-grade silicone lube if this is a big concern.  It should spray on easy (as opposed to rubber bushing safe greases in a tub) like the petroleum-based stuff, and you’ll never worry about it melting your rubber.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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Alfa Romeo To Build Spider On Own Platform, Mazda MX-5 To Fiat-Abarth http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-build-spider-platform-mazda-mx-5-fiat-abarth/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-build-spider-platform-mazda-mx-5-fiat-abarth/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 13:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963858 Alfa Romeo will be going its own way for its upcoming Spider, directing Mazda to take its 2016 MX-5 over to Fiat-Abarth instead. Car reports the new roadster will be “a derivative of project Giorgio,” per Alfa and Maserati brand boss Harald Wester. Giorgio is, of course, the RWD platform that will underpin many a […]

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Alfa Romeo will be going its own way for its upcoming Spider, directing Mazda to take its 2016 MX-5 over to Fiat-Abarth instead.

Car reports the new roadster will be “a derivative of project Giorgio,” per Alfa and Maserati brand boss Harald Wester. Giorgio is, of course, the RWD platform that will underpin many a new Alfa, including the expected 159 successor due early this coming summer.

As for the MX-5’s role in the matter, the platform will be heading to Fiat-Abarth, raising the possibility for a new Barchetta or stand-alone Abarth model to emerge from Mazda’s Hiroshima facility in the near future. Alfa’s Spider, however, will be made in Italy, per CEO Sergio Marchionne’s vision for the Alfa brand.

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Detroit 2015: Next-Gen Chevy Volt To Gain Corvette Styling Cues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-next-gen-chevy-volt-gain-corvette-styling-cues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-next-gen-chevy-volt-gain-corvette-styling-cues/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963834 Can you see a C7-era Chevrolet Corvette in that new Volt’s face? There’s a reason for that. Autoblog reports the second-gen PHEV will be taking some styling cues from the Corvette Stingray, including the latter’s taut hood lines and hexagonal tail lamps, as part of a new design strategy to link Chevrolet’s next-gen models — […]

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Can you see a C7-era Chevrolet Corvette in that new Volt’s face? There’s a reason for that.

Autoblog reports the second-gen PHEV will be taking some styling cues from the Corvette Stingray, including the latter’s taut hood lines and hexagonal tail lamps, as part of a new design strategy to link Chevrolet’s next-gen models — including the Cruze and Malibu — to the seventh-generation Corvette.

Returning to the Volt, the PHEV will also sport the regenerative-braking system currently generating power for the Cadillac ELR. The system allows the driver to adjust the amount of energy recovered as the situation calls for it.

Other expected changes for the new Volt include a 1.5-liter four-pot, longer electric-only range, more power — thanks to the addition of a second electric motor — and a larger battery.

The PHEV — sans dancing hipsters — will roll down the ramp January 12, 2015 during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

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Ally Leaves Government Ownership, US Treasury Exits Auto Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ally-leaves-government-ownership-us-treasury-exits-auto-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ally-leaves-government-ownership-us-treasury-exits-auto-industry/#comments Mon, 22 Dec 2014 11:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963794 With its GMAC Financial leather jacket burning in the closet while a supermodel lip-synchs in the tub, Ally Financial is at last free from government ownership. The Detroit News reports the U.S. Treasury sold its remaining 11.4 percent stake in the lender Friday, six years to the day the Bush II administration made the decision […]

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With its GMAC Financial leather jacket burning in the closet while a supermodel lip-synchs in the tub, Ally Financial is at last free from government ownership.

The Detroit News reports the U.S. Treasury sold its remaining 11.4 percent stake in the lender Friday, six years to the day the Bush II administration made the decision to rescue the automotive industry from certain doom; the Treasury held 74 percent to start. The sale — 54.9 million shares at $23.25 per share — brought in $1.3 billion, adding to the $19.6 billion recovered from three separate investments totalling $17.2 billion.

Overall, the bailout recovered the $60 billion invested under the Obama administration, though said administration didn’t include the $10 billion lost in that time, nor the initial $25 billion pumped into the ailing industry in the final days of the Bush II era.

The stake sale also follows a similar action a year earlier, when the department sold its last shares in General Motors. The sale drew a loss of the aforementioned $10 billion from a total investment of $49.5 billion.

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U.S. Volvo Sales Situation Getting Uglier As New XC90 Is Readied http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/u-s-volvo-sales-situation-getting-uglier-new-xc90-readied/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/u-s-volvo-sales-situation-getting-uglier-new-xc90-readied/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:52:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962946 We’re still a few months away from seeing the first new XC90s at Volvo dealers in North America and many more months away from discovering whether it can rescue the brand’s fortunes on this side of the Atlantic. Like an overdue baby who doesn’t want to leave his mother’s womb for this cruel, cold, callous […]

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2015 Volvo S60We’re still a few months away from seeing the first new XC90s at Volvo dealers in North America and many more months away from discovering whether it can rescue the brand’s fortunes on this side of the Atlantic.

Like an overdue baby who doesn’t want to leave his mother’s womb for this cruel, cold, callous world, the XC90 must be planning to dig in its heels (or wheels?) as stevedores attempt to drive it off Swedish docks onto North America-bound ships. Surely Volvo’s newest three-row crossover can’t be looking forward to joining a family of progressively more disappointing vehicles.

Setting aside the fact that Volvo Canada didn’t sell a single S80 in November 2014 – that’s just plain embarrassing – the U.S. situation last month was especially poor. See, it’s not just the age of the outgoing XC90 that’s been bringing down Volvo sales. The brand’s other models, almost without exception, are selling at a far slower rate this year than last year even as the U.S. auto industry expands at a healthy 5.5% clip.

The C30 and C70 left us before the second XC90 could even arrive, and their disappearance resulted in 3539 fewer January-November sales this year than in 2013.

The new V60 attracts an average of 420 buyers per month, but only 314 V60 sales were reported by Volvo in November, the model’s lowest-volume month so far.

S60 sales are down 13% this year but fell 29% to just 1017 units in November. That total marks the lowest-volume S60 month in nearly four years. (398 were sold in December 2010 when the second-generation car was ramping up.)

2016 Volvo XC90The always-unloved S80? Volume is down 4% to 1674 units this year and fell 10% in November to just 155 sales. No, the S80 was never popular, but Volvo USA sold an average of 11,350 S80s on an annual basis between 2002 and 2008. 2014 will be the sixth consecutive year of U.S. sales decline for the outdated sedan.

The XC70 posted a 4% gain in November and sales are up 4% to 4623 units this year. Likewise, XC60 volume was up 10% in November, but sales are down 5% in 2014 to 17,197 units. The Acura RDX and Audi Q5 sell more than twice as often; the Mercedes-Benz GLK nearly twice as often.

Brand-wide Volvo sales tumbled 14% last month as U.S. new vehicle volume rose 5% to 1.3 million units. Volvo earned 0.3% of the industry’s new vehicle volume. In 2004, the XC90’s best year, Volvo’s market share was a completely respectable 0.8%. They sold more than 39,000 XC90s that year and more than 100,000 other vehicles. In other words, the XC90 didn’t carry the brand on its own. 72% of Volvo sales in 2004 were generated by something other than the XC90. Hypothetically, if the S60, S80, V60, XC70, and XC60 could do nothing more than halt their decline in 2015, Volvo would still need to sell approximately 45,000 XC90s in order for the brand to top the 100K mark.

That’s not going to happen, particularly not in 2015, as the XC90 will be late getting started. But even if the XC90 is nothing more than a sign that Volvo has returned to form, even if it’s  nothing more than sufficiently successful to halt Volvo’s decline – Volvo brand sales are down 9% in the U.S. this year – we can hope that its successors will be prepared to restore Volvo to North American health.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Chart Of The Day: How Important Is The TLX In Acura Showrooms? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-important-tlx-acura-showrooms/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-important-tlx-acura-showrooms/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962514 Even in the Acura TLX’s best sales month, the brand’s MDX and RDX crossovers still accounted for 55% of Acura sales in the United States. With the TLX now consistently generating around three out of every ten Acura sales in America, it’s safe to say that Acura’s passenger car division is, for the moment, in […]

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Acura sales chart TLXEven in the Acura TLX’s best sales month, the brand’s MDX and RDX crossovers still accounted for 55% of Acura sales in the United States.

With the TLX now consistently generating around three out of every ten Acura sales in America, it’s safe to say that Acura’s passenger car division is, for the moment, in safer hands than it was with the TL and TSX last year. Together, they generated 25% of Acura’s total volume in calendar year 2013, down from 40% in 2012 and 50% in 2011. 

2015 Acura TLXIt’s also safe to say that Acura continues to be a moderately successful upmarket brand thanks to its high-volume utility vehicles. Acura sold 15,293 TLX sedans between August and November 2014. The MDX produced 21,805 sales during the same period; the RDX another 13,828.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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New Startup Zirx Provides Concierge Services For Drivers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/new-startup-zirx-provides-concierge-services-drivers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/new-startup-zirx-provides-concierge-services-drivers/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 07:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=963002 This Saturday will be one of the most brutal shopping days of the year, as everyone will be trying to find that last-minute Christmas gift for their loved ones. The last thing anyone needs is to try to figure out where to park, wasting precious shopping minutes while circling the lot in their mythical brown […]

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ZIRX Xmas 2014

This Saturday will be one of the most brutal shopping days of the year, as everyone will be trying to find that last-minute Christmas gift for their loved ones. The last thing anyone needs is to try to figure out where to park, wasting precious shopping minutes while circling the lot in their mythical brown diesel manual RWD wagon.

For those in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, there is a solution.

San Francisco-based startup Zirx provides shoppers — and anyone else who needs it — with an array of automotive concierge services, from charging your Tesla Model S or Nissan Leaf for $10 and $15 parking so you can get on with it, to $4/gallon refueling and $30 full-detail car washing service for your Dodge Charger Hellcat or Ford F-150 Platinum Edition. Overnight parking in monitored garages and oil changes are available, as well, and all prices include tips, so you can put that tipping calculator away.

Said services are initiated via an app on your iPhone or Android unit of choice, with a Zirx agent popping by within five to seven minutes. The agents work seven days a week in the downtown cores of the aforementioned cities, with hours of operation between 7 a.m. and midnight on most days, depending on the city. Your car is covered by a $2 million insurance policy split evenly between your car and its agent, with coverage in effect from the start of your requested service, to the time your car is returned.

Though Zirx is in just three cities, the concierge startup is looking at expanding to other locations. As for Windows and BlackBerry users, the app will come to their phones in the near-future.

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Editorial: Cuba And The Axis Of Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-cuba-axis-emerging-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-cuba-axis-emerging-markets/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962978 A year ago, TTAC broke news of back channel overtures being made towards Iran on behalf of General Motors. A number of Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles made their way to Iran via a complicated logistics network and the importations were of dubious legality. But the event highlighted a sentiment in the auto industry that few are willing […]

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A year ago, TTAC broke news of back channel overtures being made towards Iran on behalf of General Motors. A number of Chevrolet Camaro Convertibles made their way to Iran via a complicated logistics network and the importations were of dubious legality. But the event highlighted a sentiment in the auto industry that few are willing to openly discuss: the BRIC countries, once the darlings of the emerging markets, have already been exhausted. The search for new markets is on, and that means places like Africa and Iran. And Cuba could be next.

While the French auto makers have established foot holds in Africa, Iran and Cuba represent two untapped markets for auto makers – the only challenge is navigating the complex political considerations that make international trade difficult.

Iran’s auto market is expected to grow to 1.5 million units by the end of the decade - nearly 50 percent greater than Australia’s, and slightly higher than Canada’s. The current sanctions in place against Iran will make it difficult for auto makers to set up shop in the country, but when they come to an end, there will be a groundswell of demand from a country that has a highly educated and relatively affluent population. Iran already has a booming domestic auto industry with long established ties to the French OEMs, but that shouldn’t stop foreign brands from attempting to compete.

Cuba, on the other hand, was on precisely nobody’s radar until the surprise announcement that America and Cuba would attempt to normalize trade relations with one another. But that development, coupled with rapidly changing laws on car ownership, could open up a whole new market in the United States’ backyard. And talk about pent up demand – some 60,000 cars dating back to 1959 or before are still on the roads, held together by MacGyver-esque engineering. To be fair, a trickle of new cars has come into the country, but they are largely restricted to taxi owners and, government agencies and rental car fleets.

The irony of Cuba and Iran’s status as potential emerging markets is lost on nobody, but any enthusiasm should be tempered. The process of economic liberalization will likely take years to fully unfold. But that doesn’t mean that auto makers should defer their preparations.

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Baidu Buys Major Stake In Uber http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/baidu-buys-major-stake-uber/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/baidu-buys-major-stake-uber/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962882 Chinese Internet overlord Baidu is buying a major stake into everyone’s favorite transportation network company, Uber. According to CNBC, neither company stated how much the stake cost Baidu, nor how large the stake is. The tech company joins Google and Goldman Sachs in the big-name-investor group backing the TNC, which is currently valued at $40 […]

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Baidu_headquarters

Chinese Internet overlord Baidu is buying a major stake into everyone’s favorite transportation network company, Uber.

According to CNBC, neither company stated how much the stake cost Baidu, nor how large the stake is. The tech company joins Google and Goldman Sachs in the big-name-investor group backing the TNC, which is currently valued at $40 billion.

As for what will happen as a result of this pairing, Baidu wants to help Uber gain a foothold into the Chinese car-hailing app market — expected to jump to 45 million users next year, from 18 million in 2013 — which is dominated by Alibaba’s Kuaidi Dache and Tencent Holdings’ Didi Dache. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said his company would integrate with the Baidu Maps app, in the hope of helping users get to where they need to go.

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Fuel Prices Fall Further, Auto Sales Soar Higher In December http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/fuel-prices-fall-auto-sales-soar-higher-december/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/fuel-prices-fall-auto-sales-soar-higher-december/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962858 Remember when we thought $2.55 for a gallon of regular was going to make for a good Christmas? Turns out the new average is $2.47, the lowest average price reported in five years. Also: That’s a photo shot by one of my relatives back in Louisville, Ky., where some stations are pumping gas for as […]

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Cheap Gas In Louisville Kentucky Circa Mid-December 2014

Remember when we thought $2.55 for a gallon of regular was going to make for a good Christmas? Turns out the new average is $2.47, the lowest average price reported in five years.

Also: That’s a photo shot by one of my relatives back in Louisville, Ky., where some stations are pumping gas for as low as $1.96/gallon.

Automotive News reports that by January 1, 2015, gasoline could be selling for as much as $2.25 to $2.40 nationally, a seasonal low not seen since 2008. The current average is down from a peak of $3.69 in April, hitting below $2.50 for the first time since October 2009.

Lower fuel prices — caused by OPEC’s decision to play the short game against United States oil production, and, perhaps, to make Putin tap out — is putting more money into the pockets of consumers, who are, in turn, using the savings to buy new vehicles, including SUVs, CUVs and trucks.

The new-car rush is helping to make this December one to remember, with J.D. Power and LMC Automotive both forecasting a 10.4 percent increase in sales over last December. Both added that 2015 will see 17 million units sold for the first time since 2001, while this year will close at 16.5 million.

As for the oil, West Texas Intermediate is going for $53.60/barrel, while Brent is moving for $58.50/barrel. Both prices are the lowest recorded since May 2009.

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Cain’s Segments: Minivans In November 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/cains-segments-minivans-november-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/cains-segments-minivans-november-2014/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:45:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962490 Despite massive year-over-year improvements, the Kia Sedona continues to be a relatively low-volume player in America’s minivan segment. But are the gains made by the Kia significant enough to make life difficult for the top four? Compared with November 2013, Sedona volume jumped 578% last month as a follow-up to October’s 251% gain. Through the […]

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2015 Kia SedonaDespite massive year-over-year improvements, the Kia Sedona continues to be a relatively low-volume player in America’s minivan segment. But are the gains made by the Kia significant enough to make life difficult for the top four?

Compared with November 2013, Sedona volume jumped 578% last month as a follow-up to October’s 251% gain. Through the first three-quarters of 2014, Kia USA had been selling fewer than 630 Sedonas per month. 2376 were sold in October; 3538 in November. The van’s market share through nine months was a paltry 1.3% as even the Mazda 5 and Nissan Quest were easily outselling the Kia. But in November 2014, the Kia Sedona grabbed 9.1% of America’s minivan market.

November was also notable for the name of the minivan category’s best seller. Toyota’s revamped-for-2015 Sienna was America’s top-selling minivan last month. November marked just the third time this year that something other than a Chrysler product topped the minivan sales charts: the Honda Odyssey did so in January; the Sienna in July.

Minivan
November
2014
November
2013
%
Change
11 mos.
2014
11 mos.
2013
%
Change
Chrysler Town & Country
8,055 11,288 -28.6% 127,331 112,551 13.1%
Dodge Grand Caravan
8,842 9,614 -8.0% 122,899 112,793 9.0%
Honda Odyssey
8,639 9,401 -8.1% 112,370 116,880 -3.9%
Kia Sedona
3,538 522 578% 11,570 6,578 75.9%
Mazda 5
407 667 -39.0% 10,854 12,717 -14.6%
Nissan Quest
483 768 -37.1% 9,148 12,006 -23.8%
Toyota Sienna
8,946 8,820 1.4% 112,814 111,737 1.0%
Volkswagen Routan
258 -100% 1,103 1,825 -39.6%
Total
38,910
41,338 -5.9% 508,089 478,087 6.3%

Of course, the Sienna only led the way in the strictest sense. Chrysler and Dodge combined for 16,897 Town & Country/Grand Caravan sales, well in excess of the 8946 managed by the Sienna and the 8639 sold by November’s third-ranked Odyssey.

The Odyssey was officially the best-selling minivan in America in calendar year 2013 but currently ranks fourth in the category through eleven months. Minivan sales in the United States are up 6% in 2014. Odyssey volume is down 4%. That just means fewer Odysseys in which to develop AMFS: Automatic Minivan Filth Syndrome.

As for the Chrysler twins, their U.S. volume plummeted in November but grew 11% to 250,230 units so far this year. The Town & Country has already topped 2013’s full-year total and indeed the full-year totals from any of the last six years, in fact. The Grand Caravan won’t match 2012’s 141,468-unit performance, but the year will end with more Grand Caravans sold than in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2013. Together, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan account for 49.2% of the minivans sold in America so far this year, up from 47.1% at this stage one year ago.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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100 Fatality, Injury Claims Approved For GM Compensation Fund Payments http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/100-fatality-injury-claims-approved-gm-compensation-fund-payments/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/100-fatality-injury-claims-approved-gm-compensation-fund-payments/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962842 It’s been a while since the TTAC Zaibatsu checked in on the victim compensation fund created by General Motors and overseen by the office of attorney Kenneth Feinberg. How have things gone since the last time? One hundred fatality and injury claims have been approved. The Washington Post reports the milestone was announced Monday, when […]

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Recalled GM ignition switch

It’s been a while since the TTAC Zaibatsu checked in on the victim compensation fund created by General Motors and overseen by the office of attorney Kenneth Feinberg. How have things gone since the last time?

One hundred fatality and injury claims have been approved.

The Washington Post reports the milestone was announced Monday, when four new fatality and seven injury claims linked to the February 2014 ignition switch recall were approved. The new total to-date comes to 42 fatalities and 58 injuries approved for payment.

Overall, Feinberg’s staff has received 2,326 claims since the window for acceptance opened August 1 of this year, 306 of which were rejected, 568 deemed deficient in information, 907 were missing verification documents, and 445 — including 46 linked to wrongful death — are under review at this moment.

As for the 100 approved claims, 57 have received and accepted settlement offers, 22 of which have been paid thus far. The window for filing, originally set to close in the final days of 2014, will do so at the end of January 2015.

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US Army Makes $744K In First-Ever Public Humvee Auction http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/us-army-makes-744k-first-ever-public-humvee-auction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/us-army-makes-744k-first-ever-public-humvee-auction/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962818 Forget Panthers: Humvees are the new hotness, as so demonstrated when the United States Army held its first-ever public auction for a surplus of the iconic military vehicle. Military.com reports a total of 25 vehicles were auctioned on behalf of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, with $744,000 brought in for the trouble. Bidding for each […]

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Humvee

Forget Panthers: Humvees are the new hotness, as so demonstrated when the United States Army held its first-ever public auction for a surplus of the iconic military vehicle.

Military.com reports a total of 25 vehicles were auctioned on behalf of the Pentagon’s Defense Logistics Agency, with $744,000 brought in for the trouble.

Bidding for each vehicle began at $10,000, but it didn’t last long at that level; the average winning bid came in at $30,000. The lowest bid was $21,500 for a 1989 model, while the highest was $41,000 for one made in 1994.

That said, the vehicles won’t be hitting the highway any time soon, as the vehicles were sold with the caveat that they would be limited to off-road purposes. Another auction is expected in January, with more likely to follow; the DLA has 4,000 Humvees gathering dust at present.

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Teknikens Värld: Ford Mondeo Estate ‘Dangerously Overweight’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teknikens-varld-ford-mondeo-estate-dangerously-overweight/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/teknikens-varld-ford-mondeo-estate-dangerously-overweight/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962754 The Ford Mondeo Estate is in trouble with one Swedish automotive publication, thanks to how much it weighs. Teknikens Värld reports the Mondeo Titanium Estate equipped with the 150-horsepower 2-liter TDCi and six-speed manual is supposed to weigh 3,530 pounds. However, when the publication’s test subject was placed on a roadside scale, the weight came […]

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Ford Mondeo Estate overweight

The Ford Mondeo Estate is in trouble with one Swedish automotive publication, thanks to how much it weighs.

Teknikens Värld reports the Mondeo Titanium Estate equipped with the 150-horsepower 2-liter TDCi and six-speed manual is supposed to weigh 3,530 pounds. However, when the publication’s test subject was placed on a roadside scale, the weight came out to 4,145 pounds, 615 more than what Ford said it weighed.

This is a problem in Sweden, as loading a vehicle above its total gross weight is illegal, something that would occur if a family loads the Mondeo to what they believe is the gross weight, only to find they’ve exceeded it.

The extra weight also proved to be dangerous, as the Mondeo failed the publication’s moose test, faring better at said test when the load dropped to 220 pounds above the maximum load limit.

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OEMs Suspend Vehicle Sales In Russia Amid Volatile Currency Situation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/oems-suspend-vehicle-sales-in-russia-amid-volatile-currency-swings/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:02:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962674 With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia. According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said “In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided […]

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opelrussia-autoworld.com_

With the Russian ruble experiencing a near collapse in value, multiple OEMs have decided to suspend sales of its vehicles in Russia.

According to a statement sent to Just-Auto, GM’s Russian arm said

“In view of the volatility of [the] rouble exchange rate and with the aim to manage its business risk, GM Russia has decided to temporarily suspend wholesaling of vehicles to its dealers in Russia as of 16 December, 2014,” said a GM Europe statement emailed to just-auto. At the same time we confirm all Cadillac, Opel and Chevrolet vehicles already purchased by customers will be delivered on the agreed price. We are monitoring the situation.”

Bloomberg is reporting that Audi and Jaguar Land Rover have also suspended sales amid uncertainty in foreign exchange markets. Toyota, Volkswagen are set to adjust their prices in the near future to reflect the new exchange rates.

Russian auto sales have spiked in recent weeks as consumers sought to buy up hard assets to protect against a falling ruble. But the erosion on value of the Russian currency have left several OEMs exposed to currency risks. According to Bloomberg’s report, BMW could stand to lose as much as $135 million dollars due to the recent drop in the ruble.

 

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Dispatches Do Brasil: 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/dispatches-brasil-2010-mitsubishi-pajero-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/dispatches-brasil-2010-mitsubishi-pajero-sport/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:59:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962594 Recently I went car shopping with a friend. We were looking at cars I’d rather not check out, but that struck his fancy . While crossovers were initially at the top of his list, he ended up with a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero, which you may know as the Montero. Being Brazil a Portuguese-speaking countries, Mitsubishi found […]

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20141218_114715

Recently I went car shopping with a friend. We were looking at cars I’d rather not check out, but that struck his fancy . While crossovers were initially at the top of his list, he ended up with a 2010 Mitsubishi Pajero, which you may know as the Montero. Being Brazil a Portuguese-speaking countries, Mitsubishi found it safe to use the Japanese market name – in Spanish, it means something naughty.

Looking for all the world like the SUV it is, the Pajero has been a force to be reckoned with in Brazil. Mitsubishi is a brand that survived the thinning out of Japanese brands when the Market opened up in the 90s. Back then everybody came. Mazda (unfortunately), Suzuki (though it’s trying again now), Daihatsu, among others I can’t remember, didn’t make it. The usual trio of suspects did, as did Mitsubishi.

In the case of the three diamond company they did it by going full 4×4 here. Little by little, cars ceased to be offered. In that way they became associated with off-roading and, in a cruel twist of image so common in underdeveloped countries, with luxury.

When my friend called me all enthused saying he had found the “perfect” one, I was a little hesitant. He was happy because the car he was looking at was a very common silver and had low mileage (34,000 km for a 4-year old car, now almost 5). My hesitation came from driving previous Mitsubishi products. The Pajero Io or TR, always felt like it wasn’t properly aligned at speeds above 100 km/h. The L200? So noisy and slow. Plus, like I said, many here confuse it with a luxury product. I was afraid my friend did, too.

When we arrived at the place, her owner was waiting for us. A good sign as she was a she. A woman using this car would do it for school runs and mall visiting, nothing off-roadsy. As a general view of course. Talking to her confirmed our impression. She said she was divorced and the car was titled to her name. The paint still shone, and it was easy to see the interior had been detailed. I got under the car and could see no unusual scratches or anything that’d indicate off-roading.

Took it for a spin, decided it was good. Took it to a mechanic, he declared it good. Money changed hands and that was that. As is the case for this kind of car in Brazil, it was a lot. 71,000 reais of my friend’s hard-earned money. As the exchange rate is hovering around USD$1=R$2.5, you can do the math.

Getting inside, it is the typical Japanese fair. The interior would probably look better in a 90s product, though it is well screwed together. The materials do not impress. On top of the dash is a very thin rubber finishing. Quite hard, at least it’s softer than plastic. There is some sort of plastic possibly trying to imitate wood around the instrument binnacle. There is an insert of perforated leatherette on the door breaking that vast expanse of plastic. The vanity mirrors in both sun visors are among the smallest I’ve seen, but I guess they do their job. The mouse fur on the ceiling is good enough, not too grainy and a light color, which helps the sensation of airiness. All windows have auto up and down, though only the driver’s is marked. All others, a drab slab of black plastic. At least the tactile sensation is not notchy, though not silky either.

The seats were quite comfortable too and offer a wide variety of positions. You get to these positions by manual levers of course. There is not a lot of bolstering, but as this car’s function is to confront the urban jungle, I mean the Sahara, it’s not too bad. The leather of course is false, but there is some variation and the sides have a different pattern than the middle. In the back it is not so good. The backs of the seats are very short and a very large section of metal appears. I have never seen a car with that much open space. The floor back there is quite high too, so not the best place to sit for a long drive.

Talking about good things the trunk is huge, officially rated at over 900L. Again, there is a mishap. No lid. Not a good thing in this country. The best thing in the interior is the wheel, I decide. Plastic, but with a nice texture, it is thick and decent sized, being the best place to lay your hands in the interior.

So now the drive. Inside the limitations of the segment, it is decent. The Pajero boast a 2.5 HPE diesel engine with intercooler good for a little over 150 hp. On the go, with the windows closed, vibrations are contained as is noise. This is a good thing, as outside it still sounds like a bus. At least in Brazil self-service gas stations are outlawed, so the owner will never get the stinky fuel on his hands or clothes. Torque is221 lb-ft  at a low 2000 rpm. Bellying that number and speaking from my experience, you need to rev the thing to get it moving. Most especially in this region of Brazil, Minas Gerais, which is a very mountainous state.

What is not decent is the placement of the gear levels. In my day with it I went to some places with a lot of hills to test the torque and drivability. As a result I spent a lot of time in second gear. Being this Pajero a 5-speed manual car, the position of second gear was simply unacceptable. Once engaged, it eats into my thigh, forcing me to dive with my legs straight ahead and not a little bit open like I usually do. I think this a result of a quickie changeover of the driver’s side, as in Japan they drive on the “wrong” side just like the British. Being that here we adopt the same positioning as most of the world, this would render the possibility of buying this car for myself non-existent.

Once on the move and up to speed it can go quite fast and will keep speed rather effortlessly. I was a bit hesitant to push it over 140 km/h though as at those speeds the car is weaving and bobbing. I slowed down for curves, quite a bit, making it necessary to step on it to make it recoup lost speed. Then, the engine does get intrusive. Spacious enough for a family of 4, the noise and spongy suspension do not make it my kind of car for a sortie to the beach.

This Pajero uses Mitsubishi’s Easy Select transfer case. This means you can go from 2 High to 4 High at speeds of up to 100 km/h. Engaging 4 Low does require almost a full stop. This is where Mitsubishi has built its reputation in Brazil. Off-roaders love them and deem it competent. For normal city use, this system requires compromises that most seem willing to make. Heavy, the 4 wheel drive system takes that much more out of the enjoyment of the car but within the limits of its BOF construction, again, decent.

Due to its slab sides and ample windows, sight lines are good. Again, a good thing, as this is a big car for the spaces available in Brazilian cities. The steering is light and numb, which is what most owners would like anyway. Under normal conditions the car doesn’t threaten to roll over off course, but it is not made for speed. It is much better handling than 90s era SUVs in this sense, but most drivers, as they are not going off-road anyway, would be better served by a crossover. A Dodge Journey/Fiat Freemont has this beast beat in the handling department as possibly has Mitsubishi’s own ASX.

When talking of these cars, people like me who don’t get them always ask: Why? So I asked the happy owner. I know he doesn’t have a farm and has never expressed an interest in off-roading. He said he couldn’t exactly pinpoint it, but it gave him a feeling of satisfaction. After many years of hard work, he got a car that told him he’d made it. Also, it was not a Mercedes so he didn’t feel too uneasy about potential violence or kidnapping. I get the sensation this a prime reason for this kind of car in Brazil. It’s big, it’s imposing, it’s “imported”, but it’s not a BMW. People will look, but won’t necessarily put you on their kidnap list.

For 70,000 thousand reais there are much better cars out there. Big cars, medium cars (talking real cars here), which will all give you more performance, a better ride and even possibly lower running costs as the high cost of insuring diesel trucks in Brazil all but guarantee the fuel savings will be annulled. In our world though none of them give you the presence of a big SUV or CUV and I can respect that. As I saw him pulling up and away from my garage, wheels squealing at the incline and sharp turn, I realized once again, it takes all kinds.

 

 

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MBUSA Looking South For New Home http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mbusa-looking-south-new-home/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mbusa-looking-south-new-home/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962394 With Cadillac getting its inner hipster on in SoHo, and Subaru trekking four miles west to conduct its American hustle in Camden, N.J., Mercedes-Benz USA is feeling the urge to heed the song of the South and go with the wind. Automotive News reports MBUSA is looking at relocating its 800 employees to either Georgia, […]

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Mercedes-Montvale-hq-a

With Cadillac getting its inner hipster on in SoHo, and Subaru trekking four miles west to conduct its American hustle in Camden, N.J., Mercedes-Benz USA is feeling the urge to heed the song of the South and go with the wind.

Automotive News reports MBUSA is looking at relocating its 800 employees to either Georgia, Florida or North Carolina, leaving Montvale, N.J. after 42 years. Representatives for the company wouldn’t confirm or deny the plans, believing it to be nothing more than rumor and speculation.

The company is currently looking over tax incentive packages, with New Jersey working on its own package in the hope of keeping MBUSA’s headquarters in Montvale. JLL Inc., the commercial real estate firm that is helping Toyota move its U.S. headquarters to Texas from California, is also lending assistance to the company.

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Detroit 2015: Honda FCV Concept Ready For North American Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-honda-fcv-concept-ready-north-american-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-honda-fcv-concept-ready-north-american-debut/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962370 With the FCX Clarity now out of the picture, Honda is looking forward to the FCV’s replacement, a preview of which is set to bow at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The Honda FCV Concept will be making its North American debut under the lights of Cobo Hall in January, having made its world debut […]

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Honda_FCV_CONCEPT(1)

With the FCX Clarity now out of the picture, Honda is looking forward to the FCV’s replacement, a preview of which is set to bow at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The Honda FCV Concept will be making its North American debut under the lights of Cobo Hall in January, having made its world debut last month in Japan. The concept is meant to show the evolution of the automaker’s plans for a new FCV, first seen with the FCEV Concept that bowed during the 2013 LA Auto Show.

As for when the production version of Honda’s next hydrogen vehicle will enter showrooms, the FCV will arrive in Japan March 2016, then land in the United States later on.

Once across the Pacific, the FCV will have quite a few locations to refuel, thanks to a $13.8 million investment deal between Honda and FirstElement Fuel to build more hydrogen refueling stations in California.

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Peak MKC? Lincoln’s MKC Sales Growth Finally Suspended In November http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/peak-mkc-lincolns-mkc-sales-growth-finally-suspended-november/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/peak-mkc-lincolns-mkc-sales-growth-finally-suspended-november/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:30:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962090 After increasing sales of the brand’s new Escape-related small crossover in five consecutive months, Lincoln MKC volume levelled off in November 2014 at 2152 units. This represents a 2% drop from the total achieved by the MKC in its best month, October, when 2197 were sold. America’s new vehicle market was 2% larger in November […]

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Lincoln MKCAfter increasing sales of the brand’s new Escape-related small crossover in five consecutive months, Lincoln MKC volume levelled off in November 2014 at 2152 units. This represents a 2% drop from the total achieved by the MKC in its best month, October, when 2197 were sold. America’s new vehicle market was 2% larger in November than it was during the prior month.

Have we therefore reached the MKC’s maximum monthly volume? Dealers have plenty of copies to sell: there was a 116-day supply at the beginning of November. 2150 sales per month would put the MKC in the same territory as the much larger and more costly Mercedes-Benz GL-Class, ahead of the smaller BMW X1 and also-ex-PAG Volvo XC60, but well back of class leaders like the Acura RDX, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLK, and BMW X3. This year, the latter four are generating 3610, 3443, 3013, and 2820 average monthly sales, respectively.

We don’t yet know how strong the full force of Lexus’s NX will be. The first 22 NXs were sold at the end of November. It’s also far too early to label the MKC as a hit or miss, regardless of what the mainstream media coverage of Matthew McConaughey advertisements said. (We fully expected to see more and more MKCs on the road as the launch took hold, and thus more Lincolns overall, regardless of whether it was marketed by McConaughey or Megan Mullally.) And if we were going to say the McConaughey ads worked, shouldn’t we now say they stopped working?

Of greater interest to the Ford Motor Company may be the MKC’s ability to generate a good deal extra volume even as the Ford Escape reports improved sales, as well. 2013 was a record sales year for the Escape, and after falling 3% through the first one-third of 2014, Escape sales have increased 7% over the last seven months, the time period in which the Lincoln MKC has been available.

Lincoln sales chartAs for the Lincoln brand itself, sales were up 21% to 8113 units in November 2014. Non-MKC volume was down 11%, however, as the Navigator’s 88% increase was more than offset by a 29% drop in car sales, the consistent decline of the MKT, and the gradual disappearance of the first-generation MKX, a vehicle which will soon be replaced.

Total Lincoln volume through the first eleven months of 2014 is up 15%, an 11,074-unit improvement. The MKC has added 10,767 of those extra sales. MKZ sales are up 6% to 31,373 units – the MKZ and MKS (down 26%) account for 46% of Lincoln’s year-to-date volume – and the MKX’s 4% improvement is accompanied by a 13% boost in Navigator volume.

Obviously the MKC is more than capable of bringing more buyers into Lincoln showrooms. Reigniting interesting in the brand’s other vehicles may be too great an ask. After recording year-over-year increases in 13 of the 14 months leading up to the MKC’s release, MKZ sales decreased in June, July, August, September, and October before falling to a 21-month low in November. Is the MKC stealing some sales from the Cadillac SRX? Perhaps. But it may be impacting the MKZ, as well, just as many a small crossover is disrupting many a midsize car.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Detroit 2015: New Lexus F Model Teased http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-new-lexus-f-model-teased/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-new-lexus-f-model-teased/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962338 More teasers from Toyota, this time from its luxury brand, Lexus, which is bringing over a new F model to the party at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. The new vehicle, the second in the F high-performance series after the RC F, will roll into the spotlight January 13 at 8:40 a.m. Eastern. More details […]

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More teasers from Toyota, this time from its luxury brand, Lexus, which is bringing over a new F model to the party at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

The new vehicle, the second in the F high-performance series after the RC F, will roll into the spotlight January 13 at 8:40 a.m. Eastern. More details will likely be revealed closer to showtime, as is sometimes the case with these teasers.

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Alfa Romeo Readies New Engines For 2015 Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-readies-new-engines-2015-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/alfa-romeo-readies-new-engines-2015-debut/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962314 Aside from rebuilding itself in North America, Alfa Romeo is set to introduce a new family of high-performance engines into the lineup, the first of which will come in the next six months. Automotive News Europe reports three of those engines — two gasoline, one diesel — will debut with the automaker’s new midsize sedan […]

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Aside from rebuilding itself in North America, Alfa Romeo is set to introduce a new family of high-performance engines into the lineup, the first of which will come in the next six months.

Automotive News Europe reports three of those engines — two gasoline, one diesel — will debut with the automaker’s new midsize sedan in June 2015, hitting showrooms sometime in 2016.

The main unit will be a direct-injection 2-liter turbo-four with MultiAir VVT on-board. That engine, dubbed the Global Medium Engine, is expected to produce 180-330 horsepower, with the power directed to the back or all four corners via a range of automatic and manual transmissions. A 2.2-liter turbodiesel four-pot will also be available, delivering 135 to 210 horses in the same manner.

The crown jewel, however, will be a 2.9-liter direct-injection twin-turbo V6 — remade from Ferrari’s 3-liter unit found in the Maserati Quattroporte and Ghibli — which will throw down up to 480 stallions for the trouble.

VM Motori has also been called upon, working with Alfa to develop a new version of the 3-liter V6 diesel found in a handful of Jeep and Maserati products. Two variants are expected, ranging from 275 horsepower — like the current mill — to 340 horsepower. The engines will be used in AWD applications, and will only be found under the hoods of a large sedan and midsize SUV down the road.

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Detroit 2015: Toyota Teases New Tacoma Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-toyota-teases-new-tacoma/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962290 You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma. Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern. As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the […]

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You saw part of its backside. Now, behold the façade that is the 2016 Toyota Tacoma.

Just like before, Toyota didn’t say anything about the third-gen pickup, other than when it would turn up at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show: January 12, 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

As previously stated, the Tacoma is the king of the mid-size hill, but its third incarnation will be facing two new upstarts in addition to the aging Nissan Frontier: the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.

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Chart Of The Day: ExxonMobil Predicts Long Reign For The Internal Combustion Engine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-exxonmobil-predicts-long-reign-internal-combustion-engine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-exxonmobil-predicts-long-reign-internal-combustion-engine/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:38:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962202 The next 25 years of automotive powertrain technology belongs to the internal combustion engine, according to oil & gas giant ExxonMobil. While many will dismiss this as the wishful thinking of an industrial dinosaur, it’s worth remembering that 25 years isn’t that long of a timeframe in the automotive world. As we speak, automakers are already […]

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The next 25 years of automotive powertrain technology belongs to the internal combustion engine, according to oil & gas giant ExxonMobil. While many will dismiss this as the wishful thinking of an industrial dinosaur, it’s worth remembering that 25 years isn’t that long of a timeframe in the automotive world.

As we speak, automakers are already planning for what products will be on the market within the next decade. As it stands now, they must meet increasingly stringent emissions targets in the United States and the European union by 2025, in the form of both CAFE and the next round of Euro regulations that call for a fleet average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer (for comparison, a Toyota Prius emits about 100 grams per km).

One way of meeting this target is through the use of hybrid technology – a sector that ExxonMobil sees as making rapid, substantial gains over the years. At this point, every single OEM has some kind of hybrid technology that can be adapted to their volume models in a way that is efficient in terms of both packaging and cost. This is sure to be the case for plug-in hybrid technology as well.

The zero-emissions front is substantially more fraught. The battle between battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has barely begun, but supporters of the two camps are already locked into a Betamax vs. VHS style conflict. As it stands, there is minimal infrastructure for both systems, and a combination of low oil prices and consumer skepticism is likely to stall its growth for the foreseeable future. And while BEVs technically have a head start on hydrogen, their market share is, in real terms, negligible.

In 2013, BEVs had a market share of just 0.28 percent, or about 260,000 units. Even the relatively scarce plug-in hybrid segment managed to best pure electrics, with 0.31 percent of the new car market. Only in Norway, where BEVs receive heavy subsidies in the form of tax breaks, have electric cars made any real headway, and even then, they have barely cracked 6 percent.

While tales of daring and disruption and averting cataclysmic climate change make for great headlines, the reality is that technological progress, especially in the automotive sector, moves at a much more gradual pace – otherwise, we’d likely have seen a major breakthrough in EV battery technology by now, one that would allow for significant range and negligible refueling times. Utopian visions of a fleet of silent, zero-emissions vehicles are just that. Instead, we are likely to see a proliferation of hybrid technology throughout new model lineups – and much of this will likely be driven by regulatory inputs, as a means of helping vehicles meet government mandated fuel economy targets, even if consumers don’t necessarily care.

Advances in the internal combustion engine are also on the horizon. Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engines, which allow for diesel-like combustion while running on gasoline, are expected to debut on Mazda cars by 2020. Mazda claims that they will provide a 30 percent fuel economy boost, while significantly lowering emissions. Between HCCI, increasingly cleaner diesel engines and incremental improvements to traditional engines, the ICE powertrains are likely to be ubiquitous due to their familiarity and what is sure to be a cost advantage. Barring any major, prolonged spike in energy prices or a wholesale shift in attitudes towards climate change and the environment, dollars and cents (not to mention sheer convenience) will remain the primary motivating factor in new car purchases. And that means that the internal combustion engine is well placed to continue its dominance through the next quarter century.

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