The Truth About Cars » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:54:40 +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 » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/industry/ 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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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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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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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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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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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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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.

Lexus_F_15NAIAS_002 Lexus_F_15NAIAS_001

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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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2015NAIAS_Toyota_Tacoma_Teaser2

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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NHTSA Ready To Force Nationwide Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962073 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags. The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags.

The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in addition to those already recalled.

The first act in bringing the named parties to trial will be a formal demand letter issued to all concerned. Upon refusal, the NHTSA will file a suit against each party in U.S. District Court, a process that could last for months, if not years.

The die was cast when Takata rebuffed the agency’s request earlier this month to expand its recall efforts beyond high-humidity locations in warm climates around the United States, including Florida and Hawaii.

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The Ford Transit: America’s Best-Selling Commercial Van In November 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-transit-americas-best-selling-commercial-van-november-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-transit-americas-best-selling-commercial-van-november-2014/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:21:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961817 In November 2014, for the first time in its six-month North American existence, the full-size Ford Transit was America’s best-selling commercial van. A number of special circumstances made the Transit’s sudden rise to the top of the leaderboard possible, besides an increase in the number of available Transits and, yes, increased demand for the Transit […]

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2015 Ford TransitIn November 2014, for the first time in its six-month North American existence, the full-size Ford Transit was America’s best-selling commercial van.

A number of special circumstances made the Transit’s sudden rise to the top of the leaderboard possible, besides an increase in the number of available Transits and, yes, increased demand for the Transit itself.

First, sales of its predecessor, the traditional best-selling Ford E-Series, declined 59% from November 2013 to just 4151 units in November 2014. The E-Series’ decline was an anticipated one, but it had been averaging 7748 monthly sales over the Transit’s first five months.

Second, the Chevrolet Express slid 23% to just 4478 units. Had Express volume remained level – it’s up 3% year-to-date – at 5779 units, it would have clearly been the top seller for the fourth consecutive month. Sales of the Express’s twin, the GMC Savana, fell 53% to just 716 units.

Third, the attention typically generated by the Transit’s top-selling rivals was more divided than usual. Ram had its best ProMaster month in that van’s 14-month tenure with 3290 sales, 76% better than its previous best month. Mercedes-Benz Sprinter volume was up 26%.

U.S. commercial van sales chartFinally, the smaller quartet of vans, which for the first time included the Nissan NV200-based Chevrolet City Express, was up 36% to 5050 units, thereby grabbing 19.3% of the overall category, up from 14.9% a year ago.

Yet while the stars aligned for the Transit’s best-selling performance, we must expect that any Ford commercial van will become a dominant commercial van. Still, does the Transit have what it takes to pick up where the E-Series left off? The E-Series has been a massive seller for Ford in the United States, and even in this surprisingly fruitful month for the Transit, total full-size Ford commercial van sales slid 11%. Transit Connect included, Ford van sales were down 10%. The Transit has a long way to go if it’s to ever sell like the E-Series. The old van averaged 138,000 annual sales in the decade leading up to 2014.

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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Chrysler Group Now FCA US LLC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chrysler-group-now-fca-us-llc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chrysler-group-now-fca-us-llc/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 13:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962041 Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Chrysler Group is dead; long live FCA US LLC. The subsidiary made the name change official today, following the naming convention established by its parent company. Fiat, too, has cast its old corporate identity to the wind of change, now going by the name FCA Italy SpA. Other entities under the FCA […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Chrysler Group is dead; long live FCA US LLC.

The subsidiary made the name change official today, following the naming convention established by its parent company. Fiat, too, has cast its old corporate identity to the wind of change, now going by the name FCA Italy SpA. Other entities under the FCA Group umbrella will follow in due time.

The changes won’t filter down into individual brands or marketing, so the B&B will still be able to buy a Fiat 500 or Chrysler Town & Country without seeing an FCA badge.

The move marks the first time in the U.S. subsidiary’s history without the Chrysler name, first given by its founder, Walter P. Chrysler, in 1925.

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Detroit 2015: New Cadillac CTS-V Debuting January 13 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-new-cadillac-cts-v-debuting-january-13/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/detroit-2015-new-cadillac-cts-v-debuting-january-13/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962009 It’s been a long time coming: Cadillac’s third-gen CTS-V will hit the ramp at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Autoblog reports the high-performance premium sedan will bow January 13, though little else was mentioned at this time. The previous CTS-V threw down against the likes of the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63, thanks to a […]

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It’s been a long time coming: Cadillac’s third-gen CTS-V will hit the ramp at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show.

Autoblog reports the high-performance premium sedan will bow January 13, though little else was mentioned at this time.

The previous CTS-V threw down against the likes of the BMW M5 and Mercedes-AMG E63, thanks to a detuned 6.2-liter V8 lifted from the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1. The publication speculates Cadillac could use that play again, with the assist coming from the 650-horsepower supercharged V8 under the hood of the Corvette Stingray Z06.

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Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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Study: Only Five Countries Sold Over 10K PEVs In 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/study-five-countries-sold-10k-pevs-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/study-five-countries-sold-10k-pevs-2014/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961801 Plug-in vehicles may be doing well as of late in the sales game, but a study by The Research Capsule says their gameplay needs more work. According to AutoblogGreen, the group says only five countries have sold over 10,000 PEVs in 2014, which are likely the United States, China, Japan, Norway and France, respectively; the […]

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Plug-in vehicles may be doing well as of late in the sales game, but a study by The Research Capsule says their gameplay needs more work.

According to AutoblogGreen, the group says only five countries have sold over 10,000 PEVs in 2014, which are likely the United States, China, Japan, Norway and France, respectively; the report costs $7,000 for a site license, so AutoblogGreen relied on sales blog EV Sales for its information regarding those countries.

The one useful (free) information from the press release focuses on geographic distribution of overall PEV sales. For example, 50 percent of the 100,000-plus plug-ins sold through November in the United States are in California. Meanwhile, Norway adopts technology left and right, while Sweden is still trying to figure out how to flat-pack a PEV for sale at IKEA, with an appropriate all-caps Viking name to match.

As for when things may improve, The Research Capsule forecasts it would take 10 years or more for PEVs to go mainstream, and that only one country “will break 10 percent of all vehicle sales during the coming five years.” The forecast is an extrapolation of one made by the group regarding sales through 2017.

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Two-Tier Wage System Targeted For 2015 UAW Negotiations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/two-tier-wage-system-targeted-2015-uaw-negotiations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/two-tier-wage-system-targeted-2015-uaw-negotiations/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 13:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961777 2015 is only 15 days away, which means new contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers are coming, the main focus being the elimination the two-tier wage system implemented in 2007. The Detroit News reports the UAW’s hourly members are calling for the abolition of the system, which has done nothing […]

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2015 is only 15 days away, which means new contract negotiations between the Detroit Three and the United Auto Workers are coming, the main focus being the elimination the two-tier wage system implemented in 2007.

The Detroit News reports the UAW’s hourly members are calling for the abolition of the system, which has done nothing but “cause a divide” up and down the roll “on both sides of the aisle,” per Local 2209 president Brian Hartman.

There may be trouble within, however, as Tier 2 employees receive bonuses and profit-sharing checks in lieu of being on parity with Tier 1 workers. The former may not be so willing to see lowered or disappeared bonuses just to level up to those making more, while the latter would like to not only see the system die, but to gain a raise in pay — including the restoration of holiday and cost-of-living adjustment payments — in so doing.

Other issues on the table for 2015 include securing overtime pay after eight hours per day — instead of overtime after 40 hours per week — ensuring all employees receive a defined pension scheme, and hiring temporary employees for permanent positions after 90 days.

The environment for the negotiations will be different compared to those held since 2007: UAW workers at General Motors and Chrysler Group will be able to strike for the first time since 2011, while non-union employees now have the right to remain as such via Michigan’s right-to-work law. UAW president Dennis Williams hasn’t focused too much on the right-to-work situation, believing that if one does their job in representing those under their care, the people would give their undying support to the leadership.

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Honda Civic Sales Are Steadily Declining; Corolla’s Rising http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/honda-civic-sales-steadily-declining-corollas-rising/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/honda-civic-sales-steadily-declining-corollas-rising/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:42:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961385 American Honda’s Civic posted decreased sales volume in each of the last five months. After claiming the title of America’s best-selling small car in two consecutive years, it’s highly unlikely that the Civic will be able to catch the Toyota Corolla with just one month of sales reporting remaining in calendar year 2014. U.S. Civic […]

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2015 Honda Civic American Honda’s Civic posted decreased sales volume in each of the last five months. After claiming the title of America’s best-selling small car in two consecutive years, it’s highly unlikely that the Civic will be able to catch the Toyota Corolla with just one month of sales reporting remaining in calendar year 2014.

U.S. Civic sales through the first six months of 2014 increased 5% compared with the same period one year earlier. While the Civic trailed the Corolla at the halfway point in 2014, that second-place status was actually in keeping with the results from 2013, a year in which Honda’s compact sedan and coupe ended 34,000 sales ahead of the venerable Toyota compact. (Note: Corolla sales reported by Toyota USA always include the Matrix.)

But from July 2014 onward, the Civic did not prove capable of matching 2013’s impressive second-half sales rate, a period which saw Honda generate 53% of its 2013 Civic volume, sufficient for Honda to post the highest level of Civic sales since 2008.

July volume in 2014 slid 7% before August’s 14% plunge, September’s 3% dip, and 12% declines in both October and November. In the July-November period of 2013, Honda sold 148,476 Civics in the United States, but that figure dropped by nearly 15,000 units to 133,547 in 2014.

We can’t deny the impact of outside forces. The traditional top-selling car in America, the Corolla, was redesigned more recently than the Civic. (Corolla volume has increased in seven of the last eight months.) Manufacturers are always working to strike the right balance between chasing volume (with incentives, for example) and protecting long-term profits (by linking OTD prices more closely with MSRPs.) Honda is also well-known for generating the lion’s share of its volume from retail customers.

Honda Civic sales chartYet any dismay over the Civic’s recent decline can cause us to forget the fact that it’s still a wildly popular car, just not as popular as it was a year ago. Through the end of November, Honda topped the 300,000-unit barrier for the third consecutive year and for the seventh time in the last decade. It’s America’s second-best-selling small car by a wide margin, leading the Chevrolet Cruze by more than 45,000 units.

Meanwhile, north of the border, the Civic has secured a 17th consecutive victory as Canada’s best-selling car overall and will report in 2014 the nameplate’s best year since 2008. Back in the U.S., Honda’s good news is plentiful, though it’s not necessarily Civic-related. The CR-V outsold all utility vehicles and all cars in November 2014. The Accord, up 7% through the first eleven months of 2014, was America’s best-selling car in August and September.

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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Jaguar Land Rover Enhances Driving With Ghost Cars, Pillars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/jaguar-land-rover-enhances-driving-ghost-cars-pillars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/jaguar-land-rover-enhances-driving-ghost-cars-pillars/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 12:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961753 Worried about checking those corners with those thick pillars in the way? Always wanted to bring the Forza experience into the real world? Jaguar Land Rover’s got you covered. Regarding the pillars, JLR unveiled its 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen, which combines a high-end HUD with cameras embedded in the surface of a given vehicle’s A-, […]

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Worried about checking those corners with those thick pillars in the way? Always wanted to bring the Forza experience into the real world? Jaguar Land Rover’s got you covered.

Regarding the pillars, JLR unveiled its 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen, which combines a high-end HUD with cameras embedded in the surface of a given vehicle’s A-, B- and C-pillars to help the driver see potential problems that would otherwise be obscured by said vehicle’s blind spots.

How? Upon checking the corners to change direction, a given pillar would go transparent, showing the pillar’s live video feed of what might be hiding. The same effect occurs upon approach toward an intersection, when the system automatically makes either right- or left-side pillars transparent.

The virtual windscreen can also pull information from the cloud — gas prices, restaurant locations, parking spots — helping to keep the driver’s eyes where they’re needed the most: on the road. This is further enhanced with the addition of JLR’s Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation, which places a ghost car in front of the driver to aid in arriving at a destination with help from the cloud.

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Volvo Entering Digital Sales, Limiting Show Appearances http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volvo-entering-digital-sales-limiting-show-appearances/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/volvo-entering-digital-sales-limiting-show-appearances/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 11:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961729 Volvo may not be ready to directly sell its models to the public in the same way Tesla does, but the automaker is ready for online orders. Reuters reports Volvo will gently wade into Internet sales around the globe, and increase spending on digital advertising, though consumers will still need to visit their nearest dealer […]

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Volvo may not be ready to directly sell its models to the public in the same way Tesla does, but the automaker is ready for online orders.

Reuters reports Volvo will gently wade into Internet sales around the globe, and increase spending on digital advertising, though consumers will still need to visit their nearest dealer to complete the transaction for now, per sales boss Alain Visser. He adds that around 80 percent of the automaker’s base are already well-versed in online shopping, and believes the habit will transfer into cars soon enough.

Just as Volvo adjusts its backwards cap and velcro sneakers before rolling out onto the information superhighway upon its magic keyboard, however, the automaker will not be attending as many auto shows as it once did. Instead, it will hit a single show per year in Asia, Europe and North America — specifically, Shanghai/Beijing, Geneva and Detroit — preferring to produce its own annual global event for the latest and greatest.

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Editorial: Ford Is At Risk Of Missing The B-CUV Boat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-ford-risk-missing-b-cuv-boat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/editorial-ford-risk-missing-b-cuv-boat/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:37:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961441 Chevy Trax, Jeep Renegade. Honda HR-V. Mazda CX-3. Nissan Juke. Fiat 500X. There’s little doubt that the B-segment crossover is about to explode in North America. So, where is Ford in all of this? Ford markets the Ecosport in a number of world markets, from Brazil to Europe to India, as a smaller CUV that […]

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Chevy Trax, Jeep Renegade. Honda HR-V. Mazda CX-3. Nissan Juke. Fiat 500X. There’s little doubt that the B-segment crossover is about to explode in North America. So, where is Ford in all of this?

Ford markets the Ecosport in a number of world markets, from Brazil to Europe to India, as a smaller CUV that slots under the Kuga (which is our Escape in world markets). One would assume that given the “One Ford” program that is supposed to harmonize vehicles for sale across different markets, the Ecosport could quickly and easily be brought up to spec, both in terms of regulatory compliance and the level of content that North American buyers expect.

Only Ford planners know the real answer, but two immediate hurdles stand out. First off, the 1.0L 3-cylinder Ecoboost is the main powertrain in many markets. This may suffice in the BRIC countries and other markets where displacement-based taxation make big engines a burden, but North Americans would need something more powerful and more refined. The lack of an automatic option in our market doesn’t help either.

Ford would also have to find a suitable manufacturing location for the car. Since this is a fairly low-margin product, Mexico would likely be the only NAFTA country that would allow for profitable manufacturing of the Ecosport. Otherwise, it’s got to be imported from India, Brazil or Thailand, and that means shipping costs and potential tariffs, even though labor costs will be much lower.

The next-generation Fiesta is said to be coming from factories in Thailand, so perhaps that will give Ford a chance to bring the Ecosport over here. Given that the Escape is one of the top players in the compact SUV space, bringing over the Ecosport seems like the right move for Ford – assuming the numbers make sense.

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