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. Tue, 04 Aug 2015 19:21:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 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 » Industry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/industry/ FCA Dealers Can’t Sell Used Cars Without Recall Repairs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/fca-dealers-cant-sell-used-cars-without-recall-repairs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/fca-dealers-cant-sell-used-cars-without-recall-repairs/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 21:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132529 Fiat Chrysler Automobile dealers won’t be able to sell cars without recall repair work or they risk losing their incentive money under a new agreement with the federal government, Automotive News is reporting. The agreement was part of the sweeping package penalties imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including up to $105 million […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobile dealers won’t be able to sell cars without recall repair work or they risk losing their incentive money under a new agreement with the federal government, Automotive News is reporting.

The agreement was part of the sweeping package penalties imposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, including up to $105 million in fines. According to the consent agreement by the federal bureau and FCA, the company already asks dealers to complete recall work, but the new mandate would reinforce that existing policy.

In the United States, it’s illegal for a dealer to sell a new car without recall repair work, but no such law exists for used cars. A recent proposal in Congress to force used car dealers to complete open recall repair work was met with opposition.

Congress may approve a measure requiring car rental companies to comply with open recalls before it sends its cars out on to the roads.

According to a used car industry spokesman, the difficulty in getting all used car dealers to comply with recall repair work is resources and the dealers’ abilities to close the work orders with NHTSA. Only dealerships affiliated with manufacturers can perform open recall work and close those cars out with the federal safety bureau.

Carmax, for instance, provides a detailed report of recalls for its cars and encourages new buyers to register with the manufacturer to be notified of recalls. A recent report suggested that there may be up to 36 million cars on U.S. roads that haven’t complied with recalls.

It’s unclear from the consent order if the recall repair work applies only to FCA used cars sold on FCA lots, or if it would require all cars sold at FCA dealers to comply with manufacturer recalls.

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For $58 You May Pass the IIHS Small-overlap Crash http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/58-may-pass-iihs-small-overlap-crash/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/58-may-pass-iihs-small-overlap-crash/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 17:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1132489 Metal bars welded to the Ford F-150 Super Crew in front and behind its front wheels that helped it pass the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s notoriously difficult small-overlap crash cost roughly $58, Automotive News is reporting. It was revealed last week that the low-cost part was left off of regular- and extended-cab models, prompting the […]

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2015 F-150 Crash Test

Metal bars welded to the Ford F-150 Super Crew in front and behind its front wheels that helped it pass the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s notoriously difficult small-overlap crash cost roughly $58, Automotive News is reporting.

It was revealed last week that the low-cost part was left off of regular- and extended-cab models, prompting the insurance organization to retest the F-150 models and revise their ratings much lower than the original test.

According to Automotive News, Ford stopped short of saying that it would include the low-cost parts on the regular- and extended-cab versions of the truck, but said it would install “countermeasures” to improve crash performance. The regular and extended cab comprise about 5 and 25 percent of overall F-150 sales respectively.

Ram has said it would include the bars, which engineers have dubbed “wheel blockers,” in its pickups this year going forward.

overlap-overheadThe effectiveness of the relatively inexpensive part underscores the auto industry’s evolution to the small-overlap crash, which has been incredibly difficult for automakers since it was introduced three years ago. In 2012, only 3 out of 11 midsize luxury or near-luxury cars received “good” or “acceptable” ratings on the crash. In 2015, many of those ratings had improved to “good,” but when optional crash avoidance systems were installed on the car. For instance, the front crash mitigation package on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which scored a “good” rating when equipped with that option, costs $2,800.

Safety officials at the IIHS said they would begin testing the top two bestselling models of pickup trucks to avoid truckmakers testing only their most-popular models and applying the rating to the rest of its lineup without having the same equipment.

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This Is Why Nissan Isn’t Bringing The Micra To America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissan-isnt-bringing-micra-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/nissan-isnt-bringing-micra-america/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131529 Nissan began selling the Micra in the northern part of North America at the end of April 2014. The Micra was properly available by summer, and over the last twelve months — through the end of June 2015 — 11,832 Micras were sold in Canada. Could the Micra make it in America? Can we do anything other […]

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TTAC Nissan Micra Versa sales chart

Nissan began selling the Micra in the northern part of North America at the end of April 2014. The Micra was properly available by summer, and over the last twelve months — through the end of June 2015 — 11,832 Micras were sold in Canada.

Could the Micra make it in America? Can we do anything other than report evidence which supports Nissan USA’s decision to leave the Micra to their neighbors in the north and south?

There are a number of factors which cause the two auto markets north of the Rio Grande to appear similar at first glance. In the U.S. and Canada, the Ford F-Series is the perennial best seller. Windsor, Ontario-built minivans are the dominant players on both sides of the Detroit River. SUVs and crossovers are consistently generating more and more sales in both countries as the car sector loses market share in both countries.

Meanwhile, there are other factors which distinguish the two markets. In Nissan’s case, there may be no factor more obvious than the Micra and its position as an important member of Nissan’s car lineup. The Micra is Canada’s third-best-selling Nissan, ahead of everything except the top-selling Rogue and second-ranked Sentra.

2015 Nissan Micra S (4 of 10)

Based on the last twelve months, the Micra’s impact on the overall Versa lineup is undeniable. Granted, over the first half of 2015, the duo is up 8 percent, year-over-year, but the 40 percent decline in sales of the Versa — the more expensive car — equals 3,222 fewer units for that nameplate.

The results visible in the above chart represent the carrying over of a few Canadian assumptions to the U.S. ledger. Presently, the Versa is America’s top-selling sub-compact by a wide margin. And even if Versa sales in the U.S. had fallen 40.4 percent in the first half of 2015, as they have in Canada, it still would be. But its share of the market, in a segment where sales of its rivals are slipping only slightly, would plummet.

And for what, 5,000 monthly Micra sales? (That figure approximates the Mitsubishi Mirage’s monthly average U.S. volume, multiplied by 2.25.) Yes, Nissan’s overall small car total would increase, but as in Canada, it wouldn’t increase by as large a margin as Nissan would like. Blame cannibalization.

2015 Nissan Micra

Moreover, to create that increase for the sake of pleasing dealers who want another entry-level product with a bring-in-the-buyers, bargain-basement price tag; for the sake of stirring up free media over, perhaps, an $8,888 MSRP; and for the sake of engaging a group of youth buyers who may stay with the brand, Nissan would need to absorb the cost of marketing a new product, go through the rigmarole of certifying a new product and beat the Mirage at its own game. OK, maybe that last part wouldn’t be that hard.

So, why would Nissan USA avoid bringing the Micra to market? Because even with a slight increase in total volume, it simply may not be worth their while.

We’re using simple means of projection, yet it must be so. Only if Nissan USA released Micra pricing and information regarding any adjustments they’d be making to Versa bodystyles and/or trim lines would it be possible to know precisely what the Micra’s impact on the Versa would be. Yet, if the U.S. market resembles the Canadian market in any way, if the Micra fared surprisingly well in the U.S. as it has in Canada, and if doing so meant eating into a large chunk of Versa sales, we expect that first half volume in 2015 for the pair would only have risen by 10 percent.

Remember, a large part of the Versa’s appeal is its value quotient. If the Micra steals the affordability limelight, the Versa inevitably loses a chunk of buyers. These projections take into account a Versa decline identical to the one we’ve seen this year in Canada with a Micra, which roundly outperforms its Mitsubishi equivalent. There are inevitably other factors that would arise to throw off these projections, but if Nissan USA is looking at the northerly numbers, you can see why they wouldn’t want to bother with the Micra.

Unlike Canada, where the Koreans continue their domination of the subcompact market, Nissan already controls the U.S. subcompact category. Why mess with a good thing?

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Fiat Chrysler’s Product Pipeline Drier than California for 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chryslers-new-us-cars-far-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chryslers-new-us-cars-far-2016/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 17:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129321 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have only one new model built in North America over the next 18 months after executives pushed back development of others due to brisk sales of current models, Reuters is reporting. The redesigned Chrysler Town and Country minivan may be the only new car built stateside that FCA plans to launch in […]

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2015 Chrysler Town & Country

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles may have only one new model built in North America over the next 18 months after executives pushed back development of others due to brisk sales of current models, Reuters is reporting.

The redesigned Chrysler Town and Country minivan may be the only new car built stateside that FCA plans to launch in the next 18 months, sources told Reuters. The company is planning to bring to the United States three Italian cars — the Fiat Spider, Maserati’s crossover and the Alfa Romeo Giulia — in the same timeframe.

This is the part where we would like to mention that a new Jeep Grand Cherokee and Wrangler are seriously overdue.

The reason for the delay in U.S.-built cars also could be the application of the time-tested Georgia farmer theory: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Wrangler sales are booming this year, Grand Cherokee’s numbers don’t suck either and Jeep is doing pretty well with just the Renegade as its new product this year. According to the story, the Wrangler redesign is now slated for 2017 and the Grand Cherokee overhaul should arrive in 2019.

Earlier this year, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said he was hesitant to shut down the Toledo Wrangler factory for retooling when the company needed the plant to produce so many cars.

“If I shut it down for 60 days, I’d lose more money than I’d make in a year,” Marchionne said.

Comparatively, General Motors will launch six new North American vehicles in the next 18 months, according to the report.

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Reuters: Subaru Success Fueled By Marginalized Foreign Workers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/reuters-subaru-success-fueled-by-marginalized-foreign-workers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/reuters-subaru-success-fueled-by-marginalized-foreign-workers/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1128529 Reuters Investigates has a scathing report on foreign workers in Japan at some of Subaru’s most important suppliers. According to the news agency, due to the combination of a booming “Abenomics”, Japan’s 2010 asylum seeker program, and manufacturers looking for cheap sources of expendable labor, foreigners are taken advantage of and treated as second- and […]

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2015-Subaru-Forester

Reuters Investigates has a scathing report on foreign workers in Japan at some of Subaru’s most important suppliers. According to the news agency, due to the combination of a booming “Abenomics”, Japan’s 2010 asylum seeker program, and manufacturers looking for cheap sources of expendable labor, foreigners are taken advantage of and treated as second- and third-class workers. Another program meant to help Chinese citizens learn manufacturing skills in Japan is also implicated in helping Subaru take advantage of marginalized immigrant workers.

Subaru isn’t the only automotive manufacturer named as the same suppliers also feed parts to Honda and Toyota.

The long, detailed report states there are nearly 18,000 foreign residents in Ota, Subaru’s manufacturing home base in Japan, “making it a rare example of multiculturalism in a country stubbornly resistant to immigration” at three times the national average by percentage of population.

However, that immigration isn’t officially of the economic variety as is typically seen between industrialized nations, but of asylum seekers looking for a better life and finding their way into Japan through labor brokers and as indebted trainees. The situation has also been an example of institutionalized racism within Japan.

From Reuters:

In Ota’s auto industry, labor brokers and a manager at a Subaru supplier said ethnicity plays a part in how workers are placed: Japanese workers are at the top of the chain, followed by Brazilians of Japanese descent, who have been in the country longer under a special visa category and can speak the language. They’re followed by South Asians, many of them asylum seekers, and lastly, African workers at the bottom of the pyramid. An executive at one local manufacturer said he favored asylum seekers from Nepal, Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh, who he said are more willing to take on difficult jobs for lower pay.

“We carefully examined the matter and confirmed that this was not the case,” Subaru said in a written response to questions from Reuters.

The conditions for asylum-seekers-turned-workers in Ota are fueled by Subaru’s popular Forester, Reuters states in the report, running counter to the company’s “Love Promise” to make “a positive impact in the world.” Some workers make as little as minimum wage — $6.60 an hour — before labor brokers take their own cut off the top for housing, utilities and “dispatch fees” for arranging employment.

Many of the employees, typically on short-term contracts, are working illegally while on provisional release from immigration detention centers.

From Reuters:

Asked how people on provisional release were supposed to survive if they were barred from working, Hidetoshi Ogawa, a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said they should rely on support from their relatives, friends and local charities. He said provisional release was a humanitarian measure to avoid long-term detention, “but in truth, these people should leave the country.”

The terms of employment, conditions of work, and treatment of the workers is fully detailed in the report and not what you’d expect from a supposed First World country like Japan.

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Chart Of The Day: Post-Recession Automaker Market Share In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-post-recession-automaker-market-share-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-post-recession-automaker-market-share-america/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123689 Since 2010 — when America’s auto industry was in tatters but also in recovery — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota USA, and American Honda have lost 5.5 percentage points of market share. Through the first half of 2015, those four automobile manufacturers produced 56.1 percent of all new vehicle sales in the United States, […]

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Post-recession-market-share-TTAC-auto-sales-chart-2015

Since 2010 — when America’s auto industry was in tatters but also in recovery — General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota USA, and American Honda have lost 5.5 percentage points of market share.

Through the first half of 2015, those four automobile manufacturers produced 56.1 percent of all new vehicle sales in the United States, down from 61.6 percent in calendar year 2010. 

Fortunately, over the span of five years, the market has boomed back to 2005-like heights. As a result, GM in 2015 may sell more than 3 million vehicles for the first time since 2007. Total Ford/Lincoln sales will be around 33-percent higher than the Ford MoCo total from 2010; Toyota’s 40-percent higher in comparison; Honda’s 22-percent greater.

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

But where did their market share go? The Chrysler Group, now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, is now the country’s fourth-best-selling automaker; having taken over from American Honda in 2011; having not yet looked back. Together with Nissan/Infiniti, Germany’s four premium brands, and Subaru, the market share lost by GM, Ford, Toyota, and Honda is fully accounted for.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126585 Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting. Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and […]

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Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting.

Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent for Toyota and VW respectively.

GM was the third-largest automaker with 4.86 million vehicles.

Volkswagen capitalized on a growing European market to help offset softening Chinese sales. Passenger-vehicle sales fell for the first time in two years in China as that country’s economy responds to market volatility.

Sales slumped in South America, some Southeast Asia markets and sales in Russia have dramatically declined, the story points out.

Deliveries in North America increased by only 4.4 percent, the smallest margin since the economic recovery began in 2009.

The report is the latest in the saga of “Who Wants To Be The World’s Largest Automaker?” with VW on pace to take the crown three years before their executives forecasted. In May, it looked as if VW would take silver thanks to its ongoing leadership shuffle, but a resurgent European market may help. Meanwhile, Toyota may make up ground after a 10-percent gain in China in the first half, according to the report.

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Ford Posts $1.9B Second Quarter Profit, Largest Since 2000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-posts-1-9b-second-quarter-profit-largest-since-2000/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/ford-posts-1-9b-second-quarter-profit-largest-since-2000/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 17:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126521 Ford announced that it made a $1.9 billion net-adjusted profit in the second quarter of 2015, marking the largest gain for the automaker since 2000, according to Automotive News. The profit represents a 44-percent gain over last year despite dipping global sales and a stronger U.S. dollar hampering exports. Ford said it was selling cars for […]

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2015 Ford F-150

Ford announced that it made a $1.9 billion net-adjusted profit in the second quarter of 2015, marking the largest gain for the automaker since 2000, according to Automotive News.

The profit represents a 44-percent gain over last year despite dipping global sales and a stronger U.S. dollar hampering exports. Ford said it was selling cars for more money and offering fewer incentives, despite recent reports of F-150 incentives topping nearly $11,000 in some places.

Ford said revenues in North America surged 10 percent, which helped the company beat Wall Street’s expectations.

The 10-percent gain in revenue in North America is despite Ford’s slower-than-average sales compared to the overall industry average. Automotive News reported that the automaker achieved a 1.7-percent increase in sales for the second quarter compared to the industry average of 3.3 percent.

A slowdown in production of the F-150 is partially to blame for the sales shortfall. Building the redesigned F-150 at both of Ford’s plants has gone slower than normal, the automaker said, and inventory levels should return to normal in September.

The automaker said it increased its global market share one-tenth of a percent to 7.6 percent. Twelve of its 16 planned global launches have happened already this year, and Ford said the rest were on track. The company said it was still on track for an end-of-year, pre-tax profit of between $8.5 billion and $9.5 billion.

Ford posted a net loss in South American, European, Middle Eastern and African markets, but posted a $33 million gain in the Asia Pacific region, a 20-percent improvement over last year.

Ford Credit posed a $506 million pre-tax profit for the second quarter, a 17-percent gain.

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GM to Develop Global Car with China-based SAIC Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-develop-global-car-china-based-saic-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-develop-global-car-china-based-saic-motors/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126489 General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday. The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement. The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker […]

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General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement.

The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker expects the line to eventually produce roughly 2 million cars annually.

GM said the new global architecture would replace several existing models, but didn’t specify what those outgoing models would be. The vehicles would be manufactured in China, Brazil, Mexico and India and exported to other countries. GM said they expect to source many of the car’s components from local suppliers.

“With a significant majority of anticipated automotive industry growth in 2015 to 2030 outside of mature markets, Chevrolet is taking steps to capitalize on that growth,” General Motors President Dan Ammann said in the statement . “Strengthening Chevrolet’s position through this major investment is consistent with our global strategy to ensure long-term profitable growth in the markets where we operate.”

In February, SAIC and General Motors (through its Shanghai General Motors Wuling joint venture business) opened a plant in Indonesia to build SAIC-branded cars. SAIC also owns British car company MG.

The GM-SAIC partnership has an interesting history, especially in India.

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Chart Of The Day: Canada Loves FCA And Small Cars, But Not The Dodge Dart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-canada-loves-fca-small-cars-not-dodge-dart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-canada-loves-fca-small-cars-not-dodge-dart/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1121761 FCA Canada only sold 220 Dodge Darts in June 2015, a 79-percent year-over-year decline. Through the first six months of 2015, Dart volume is down 55 percent to only 1,979 sales, one-fifteenth the total achieved by the best-selling Honda Civic and equal to just 1.1% of the compact car market. The Dart’s market share in […]

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Canada Dodge Dart sales chart

FCA Canada only sold 220 Dodge Darts in June 2015, a 79-percent year-over-year decline. Through the first six months of 2015, Dart volume is down 55 percent to only 1,979 sales, one-fifteenth the total achieved by the best-selling Honda Civic and equal to just 1.1% of the compact car market.

The Dart’s market share in the United States, meanwhile, grew from 3.4 percent in the first-half of 2014 to 4.2 percent in the first half of 2015. Though no industry observer would suggest that the Dart’s U.S. uptick relates purely to increased desirability and demand – and not to cash allowances and fleet-friendliness – the car’s Canadian dive speaks volumes about FCA’s emphasis on light trucks and SUVs north of the 49th parallel.

True, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ U.S. outpost is also heavy on “light trucks.” But while 27 percent of the automaker’s U.S. volume this year is derived from passenger cars, just 13 percent of their Canadian sales are generated by cars.

Yet FCA has reported more Canadian new vehicle sales this year than any other automaker, even with a car division that’s lacking consequence, even with buyers unable to actually find cars (only 11 of the 634 new vehicles in stock at my three local FCA dealers are Darts; one of two local Honda stores has 126 Civics), even with their lone competitor in Canada’s biggest car segment flopping.

The Dart was Canada’s 25th-best-selling car at this time a year ago, but it currently ranks 46th.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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No, Fiat Chrysler Probably Won’t Go Broke Buying Back Used Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fiat-chrysler-probably-wont-go-broke-buying-back-used-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/no-fiat-chrysler-probably-wont-go-broke-buying-back-used-cars/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 22:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126033 After this morning’s announcement that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be subject to one of the largest civil penalties for an automaker, reports that the automaker could be on the hook for $2.5 billion in cars aren’t true, the automaker said today. “While such amounts may exceed the $20 million, contrary to certain reports, FCA US does […]

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2009_Dodge_RAM_1500_SLT_4-door_pickup_--_NHTSA_01

After this morning’s announcement that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would be subject to one of the largest civil penalties for an automaker, reports that the automaker could be on the hook for $2.5 billion in cars aren’t true, the automaker said today.

“While such amounts may exceed the $20 million, contrary to certain reports, FCA US does not expect that the net cost of providing these additional alternatives will be material to its financial position, liquidity or results of operations,” the automaker said in a statement.

In other words, expect to find some screaming deals on Ram trucks in the next few months.

The automaker announced on its website that not all customers would participate in the buyback plan and that 60 percent of the affected vehicles had been repaired already. That leaves roughly 200,000 cars that could be eligible for free repairs or to be purchased by FCA.

Those vehicles would be purchased at “a price equal to the original purchase price less a reasonable allowance for depreciation plus ten percent,” according to the automaker.

The manufacturer said under the guidelines of the penalty, it would be allowed to resell the recalled trucks to the public.

The vehicles that may be eligible for repurchase are:

• 2009-2012 Ram 1500s

• 2008-2012 Ram 1500 Mega Cab 4×4, Ram 2500 4×4, 3500 4×4, 4500 4×4, 4500 4×4

• 2009 Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango

• 2009-2011 Dodge Dakota

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Car Building in Ontario Could Die, and They Probably Can’t Save It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/car-building-ontario-die-probably-cant-save/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/car-building-ontario-die-probably-cant-save/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 21:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125985 Ontario’s debt is swelling and as home to eight manufacturing plants — the largest complex in North America — automakers may have a tough time keeping plants open in Canada’s most-populous province. According to a story by the Financial Post, Ontario is moving forward with an ambitious plan to revamp roads and mass transit systems despite its debt being downgraded […]

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Chrysler Brampton Assembly Plant

Ontario’s debt is swelling and as home to eight manufacturing plants — the largest complex in North America — automakers may have a tough time keeping plants open in Canada’s most-populous province.

According to a story by the Financial Post, Ontario is moving forward with an ambitious plan to revamp roads and mass transit systems despite its debt being downgraded by Standard & Poor’s bond index. The broad public spending plan also extends to other sectors, despite high unemployment numbers and slumping manufacturing jobs.

Automakers such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles have called on the provincial government to cut back on public programs and reduce costs on utilities in an effort to keep car building in the province profitable. This year, Chevrolet will shift production of its Camaro to Michigan. On the whole, Oshawa GM production has a dark cloud lingering overhead until the company decides what to do with the facility in 2016.

Ontario’s debt is twice that of California’s with only half the population, the Financial Post reported.

Last month the province reported that 5,200 manufacturing jobs left the region, which prompted local business leaders to sign a petition asking the government to reconsider its proposed pension plan that FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said this month could hamper growth.

“We’re fully aware of the fact that this proposal on pensions and cap and trade and all this stuff … these are all things that add cost to the running of operations, they don’t come for free,” Marchionne said, according to the Toronto Sun.

Already, automakers such as Volvo and Land Rover have turned down Ontario in favor of operations in the United States and it’s unclear if swelling debt and rising costs of operation will cost the province more jobs in the future.

Other automakers that already have facilities in Ontario are making changes. Honda and Ford are both positioning their plants to manufacture vehicles for export markets. Toyota, on the other hand, will end Corolla production in Ontario in favor of Mexico. The company stated it will “switch from producing Corollas to mid-sized, higher-value vehicles” at their Canadian plant. The replacement product has not yet been announced.

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Chart Of The Day: BMW 4-Series Is Selling Almost As Often As The 3-Series http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-bmw-4-series-selling-almost-often-3-series/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-bmw-4-series-selling-almost-often-3-series/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 13:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118073 In June 2015, BMW USA finally began providing a breakdown in their monthly sales report for the 3-Series and 4-Series. We’re grateful. You’ll recall that in prior generations, the 4-Series was the 3-Series. The 3-Series was the 3-Series, too, but the 4-Series cars were versions of the 3-Series with two doors. The story is still […]

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bmw usa sales chart

In June 2015, BMW USA finally began providing a breakdown in their monthly sales report for the 3-Series and 4-Series. We’re grateful.

You’ll recall that in prior generations, the 4-Series was the 3-Series. The 3-Series was the 3-Series, too, but the 4-Series cars were versions of the 3-Series with two doors.

The story is still the same, except now you can get a version of the 4-Series with four doors and a hatch. You can get a 3-Series with four doors and a hatch, too, except it’s ugly. The 4-Series with four doors and a hatch is a decent looker.

They call it the Gran Coupe — coupe meaning a two-door car with a fixed roof. True, the 4-Series Gran Coupe has four doors, but the 4-Series nomenclature indicates the presence of two doors. So they run with it, just like they do with the 6-Series Gran Coupe in the interest of consistency, which is a four-door car with a trunk, not a hatch, to make sure consistency doesn’t run rampant.

2012 BMW 3-Series sedan

Forgive the digression. BMW’s naming scheme creates a need for background. Regardless, June presented BMW with 6,891 sales of the 3-Series (sedan, Gran Turismo, and wagon) and nearly that many copies of the 4-Series (coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe). 4-Series sales jumped 69 percent to 6,625 units, just 266 sales shy of the 3-Series, sales of which slid 10 percent.

40 percent of BMW brand volume in the United States is generated by these two model lines. Throughout the first half of 2015, their sales figures weren’t nearly so similar, as the above chart attests. But the U.S. market isn’t the only one where the figures for the 4-Series are beginning to approach those of the 3-Series. In Canada, after outselling the 4-Series by 75 percent through the first five months of 2015, the 3-Series was only 36-percent more popular in June, a gap of only 224 sales.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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After Collapse, Mitsubishi Gradually Recovers, Then Shuts Down U.S. Production? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/collapse-mitsubishi-gradually-recovers-shuts-u-s-production/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/collapse-mitsubishi-gradually-recovers-shuts-u-s-production/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124641 With news that Mitsubishi is ending U.S. new vehicle production front and centre in the minds of not a single auto industry observer, one wonders how the situation devolved so quickly. That’s not to say there are any surprises when it comes to Mitsubishi’s U.S. decline. (And remember, they’re not dead… yet.) A recall scandal […]

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Mitsubishi USA sales chart

With news that Mitsubishi is ending U.S. new vehicle production front and centre in the minds of not a single auto industry observer, one wonders how the situation devolved so quickly.

That’s not to say there are any surprises when it comes to Mitsubishi’s U.S. decline. (And remember, they’re not dead… yet.) A recall scandal tarnished the brand’s global image. Mitsubishi moved away from SUVs like the Montero, Montero Sport, and Endeavor ahead of the market’s turn toward SUVs and crossovers. Mitsubishi is reluctant to do anything more than facelift unpopular models like the Outlander. They’re unwilling to import the popular Outlander PHEV to hybrid-friendly America. They’ve utterly forsaken the midsize car market. They’ve crafted a muddled image which suggests Mitsubishi is both a performance brand (Lancer Evo) and a green brand (i-MiEV). Good news stories? Few and far between.

The results have been catastrophic.

After climbing to 345,111 U.S. sales in 2002, Mitsubishi volume fell 26 percent in 2003, the first of four consecutive years of decline for the brand. Overall U.S. auto sales fell just 1% in 2003.

Mitsubishi’s 2004 volume slipped 37 percent even as the market strengthened. In 2005, Mitsubishi sales fell another 23 percent. 2006 volume was down 4 percent before a 9 percent uptick in 2007.

2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport now Made in America

As a recession hit in 2008, Mitsubishi sales slid 25 percent, although the overall industry was down just 18 percent that year. Mitsubishi sales then plunged to a low of 53,986 units in 2009, a 44-percent decline that was far worse than the industry’s 21-percent slide into the abyss.

2010 revealed a measure of recovery for the auto industry in America as total volume rose 11 percent. But Mitsubishi sales were up just 3 percent. A significant 42-percent surge for Mitsubishi in 2011 propelled the brand to 79,020 sales, but the brand hasn’t yet returned to that level. Only 77,643 Mitsubishis were sold in America in 2014, a 25-percent year-over-year increase and a 34-percent improvement compared with 2012.

2006 Mitsubishi Montero

The frightening figure? Mitsubishi sales in 2014, though representative of a three-year high, amounted to less than one-quarter of Mitsubishi’s sales from 2002.

Mitsubishi sold 20,000 more Galants in 2002 than they sold total vehicles in 2014. In 2003, their Outlander sales total was 2.6 times stronger than it was last year (when Outlander volume rose to a six-year high), even as the brand sold more than 61,000 copies of other SUVs.

2009 Mitsubishi Endeavor SE

Mitsubishi averaged 53,000 annual Lancer sales between 2002 and 2004 but hasn’t topped the 20K mark in any of the last four years, the 30K mark since 2007, or the 40K mark since 2004.

Mitsubishi wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire in 2002, with U.S. market share of just 2 percent, but the brand appeared to be capable of weathering storms. A dearth of new product has been a killer problem for the brand. Through the first-half of 2015, only 0.6 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States were Mitsubishis.

2004 Mitsubishi Montero Sport

In the near future, with plans in place to stop building vehicles in North America for North America, Mitsubishi loses another key component in its quest to be competitive. Just consider the “import” automakers which believe that it’s important to not have to always import: all of them.

The Normal, Illionois-assembled Outlander Sport is Mitsubishi’s best seller this year. Overall Mitsubishi volume is up 25 percent with Outlander Sport sales rising 17 percent to 17,893 units, 36 percent of the brand’s first-half sales.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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FCA Recalls 1.4 Million Cars After Jeep Uconnect Hack http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-recalls-1-4-million-cars-uconnect-hack/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-recalls-1-4-million-cars-uconnect-hack/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 18:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124881 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would voluntary recall 1.4 million vehicles to patch a security exploit that could allow hackers to infiltrate a car’s vital systems. The recall would apply to cars fitted with the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. A story released by Wired magazine this week detailed two hackers’ system that could take over a Jeep Cherokee […]

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced that it would voluntary recall 1.4 million vehicles to patch a security exploit that could allow hackers to infiltrate a car’s vital systems.

The recall would apply to cars fitted with the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen. A story released by Wired magazine this week detailed two hackers’ system that could take over a Jeep Cherokee and control the car’s systems, including throttle, braking and steering.

Jeep released the update last week, saying the patch was for “nothing in particular” and that they “continuously test vehicles systems to identify vulnerabilities and develop solutions.”

The release required owners to download the update onto a USB drive and install it themselves, or go to a dealership. FCA will mail affected owners a USB drive with the update now.

According to FCA, the company is unaware of any injuries related to the hack.

In a statement by the company, FCA says they’ve also implemented network-level security measures to prevent further hacks.

“Further, FCA US has applied network-level security measures to prevent the type of remote manipulation demonstrated in a recent media report. These measures – which required no customer or dealer actions – block remote access to certain vehicle systems and were fully tested and implemented within the cellular network on July 23, 2015.”

The affected models, according to FCA are:

  • 2013-2015 Dodge Viper
  • 2013-2015 Ram 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickups
  • 2013-2015 Ram 3500, 4500, 5500 Chassis Cabs
  • 2014-2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Cherokee SUVs
  • 2014-2015 Dodge Durango SUVs
  • 2015 MY Chrysler 200, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans
  • 2015 Dodge Challenger

Owners can check an FCA site to see if their VIN is included in the recall.

FCA said the hack required extensive work and was not a defect:

The software manipulation addressed by this recall required unique and extensive technical knowledge, prolonged physical access to a subject vehicle and extended periods of time to write code.

No defect has been found. FCA US is conducting this campaign out of an abundance of caution.

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Fiat Chrysler Chief in Asia Quickly Quits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-chief-asia-quickly-quits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/fiat-chrysler-chief-asia-quickly-quits/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124609 The head of the Asia Pacific region for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles abruptly left his position Thursday, only a few days before the former head of FCA in Australia is expected to file a defense against allegations that he misused money, Drive in Australia is reporting. FCA Asian-Pacific chief John Kett left the company “to pursue other […]

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John KettThe head of the Asia Pacific region for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles abruptly left his position Thursday, only a few days before the former head of FCA in Australia is expected to file a defense against allegations that he misused money, Drive in Australia is reporting.

FCA Asian-Pacific chief John Kett left the company “to pursue other business interests,” according to the automaker. His resignation is effective immediately.

Former managing director of FCA in Australia Clyde Campbell is accused by the automaker of swindling more than $30 million from the company to pay for extravagant parties and gifts. 

It’s unclear if Kett’s departure has any connection with Campbell’s expected defense that he misused money.

Jeep CEO and Asian Pacific chief operating officer Mike Manley will assume Kett’s duties on an interim basis, the company said.

Campbell is accused of providing cars to celebrities such as Elizabeth Hurley and Shane Warne, in addition to hosting lavish parties and buying a $400,000 yacht with company money.

Kett has a long automotive career stretching back to the 1980s when he was CFO for Holden in Australia. After assuming various roles with GM in China and Australia, Kett was hired by Chrysler in 2008 and promoted to his role in 2009.

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Chart Of The Day: Is There Room In The Middle For GM’s Crossovers? Ford Says Yes http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-room-middle-gms-crossovers-ford-says-yes/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-room-middle-gms-crossovers-ford-says-yes/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 12:26:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1121393 As General Motors prepares to carve out space in between their best-selling utility vehicle, the Equinox, and their large three-row crossover, the Traverse, Ford reports significant improvement with the launch of their second-generation tweener crossover. U.S. sales of the Ford Edge jumped 44 percent to 40,083 units in the second-quarter of 2015. The May 2015 […]

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Ford Edge Escape Explorer sales chart 2007-2015As General Motors prepares to carve out space in between their best-selling utility vehicle, the Equinox, and their large three-row crossover, the Traverse, Ford reports significant improvement with the launch of their second-generation tweener crossover.

U.S. sales of the Ford Edge jumped 44 percent to 40,083 units in the second-quarter of 2015. The May 2015 total of 14,399 units was the best May ever for the Edge, which slots in between the Escape, one of America’s best-selling utility vehicles, and rubs up alongside the longer, three-row Explorer.

equinox1

This approach isn’t unique to Ford — Hyundai’s Santa Fe Sport is similarly positioned between the Escape-fighting Tucson and the Explorer-rivalling Santa Fe, for example — but as one of America’s biggest SUV/crossover sellers, it’s more pronounced at Ford, largely because of the Edge’s popularity.

The Edge was America’s 12th-best-selling utility vehicle last month.

2014 Chevrolet Traverse LT AWD profile

With all this in mind, can the Chevrolet brand likewise slot a crossover — potentially a three-row crossover — above a smaller Equinox but below the Traverse? GM can look at a market study completed by Ford over the course of more than eight years in order to help make their decision.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

 

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Breaking: Mitsubishi Ending U.S. Production, According To Nikkei Report http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/breaking-mitsubishi-ending-u-s-production-according-to-nikkei-report/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/breaking-mitsubishi-ending-u-s-production-according-to-nikkei-report/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2015 21:40:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1124313 Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Ill. is set to shut its doors for good. That’s what Japan’s Nikkei news service is reporting today, though U.S. representatives for the company declined to comment. The plant was opened by Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler, in 1988 after two years of construction. It currently builds the Outlander […]

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2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Mitsubishi’s plant in Normal, Ill. is set to shut its doors for good. That’s what Japan’s Nikkei news service is reporting today, though U.S. representatives for the company declined to comment.

The plant was opened by Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Chrysler, in 1988 after two years of construction. It currently builds the Outlander Sport/RVR, but was tasked with manufacturing the Eclipse/Plymouth Laser/Eagle Talon, Mirage/Eagle Summit, Galant, and coupe versions of the Dodge Avenger, Stratus and Chrysler Sebring during its lifetime.

According to Automotive News, the closure is part of a “strategic shift to the growing Asian market.” Mitsubishi will look for a buyer for the plant, and there’s no shortage of potential companies looking for additional capacity.

After the break up of Diamond-Star Motors, Chrysler’s stake in the plant was purchased by Mitsubishi. At its peak, the Normal facility produced about 200,000 vehicles per year. Last year, the plant produced just short of 70,000 vehicles, still better than the less than 20,000 it produced in 2009.

 

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Michigan to Stay Ahead of Silicon Valley with “Mcity” for Autonomous & Connected Car R&D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/michigan-tries-stay-ahead-silicon-valley-mcity-autonomous-connected-car-rd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/michigan-tries-stay-ahead-silicon-valley-mcity-autonomous-connected-car-rd/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 14:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1121737 The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I […]

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The facility was mostly deserted by the time I got there deliberately late to avoid politicians’ speechifying. Between the very realistic — but empty — roadways with functional traffic lights, railway crossings, and even parking meters, on one hand, and the two city blocks of obviously faux buildings, theatrical scrims really, on the other, I felt that at any second, things might switch to black and white and Rod Serling would step out from behind one of the backdrops.

I wasn’t in the Twilight Zone, though. I was on a gentle hillside on the north side of Ann Arbor.

While Serling’s landmark science fiction and fantasy show sometimes gave us a peek at what the future might look like, the 32 acre Mcity autonomous and connected vehicle research facility that opened yesterday on the University of Michigan’s north campus is definitely one of the places where the future of personal transportation will be made.

7/15/15               2015 UM Aerials -July                 MCity, North Campus, Munger Grad                            Residency,Campus construction.

At first glance, Mcity does look more like a movie set than a high tech R&D installation and the $10 million that it cost to build doesn’t seem like much to an industry where it costs a billion dollars to develop a new car, but the facility’s promise is such that almost 50 private sector companies are partners in the project.

IMG_0433

The fact that Mcity even exists is because of a unique partnership between the public and private sectors. The state of Michigan, via MDOT, put up $3 million, with UofM, a public university, also kicking in part of the construction costs. It looks like operational costs, at least for the next three years, will be covered by the private sector. Fifteen companies make up what is being called the Leadership Circle, which means they’ve each pledged $1 million to be paid out over three years. The Leadership Circle is a veritable who’s who of the industry including Ford, GM, Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Delphi, Denso, Bosch, Xerox, Verizon and Qualcomm. Another 32 firms have committed $150,000 each.

IMG_0428

The members of the Leadership Circle aren’t being completely altruistic. That level of contribution gives those companies access to all the research that will be performed at the facility, regardless of who is doing or sponsoring the work.

mtc_illust_with_callouts.final

That level of cooperation between car companies would not have been possible a generation or two ago, when the U.S. Dept. of Justice had automakers so worried about possible charges of collusion or violating anti-trust statutes that auto executives wouldn’t play golf with their counterparts for fear of an investigation. Of course, that level of cooperation will be necessary for the development of technical standards for vehicle to vehicle communication and other aspects of connected and autonomous driving.

IMG_0429

The interest of the auto industry in Mcity is obvious — they can use it to test their tech. The interest of the University of Michigan is also pretty obvious. UoM’s engineering school has long had a very close relationship to the auto industry and the school wants to stay on the cutting edge along with their corporate partners. Mcity is part of the university’s Transportation Research Institute. The state of Michigan’s interest is keeping itself the global center of the auto industry.

IMG_0424

With Elon Musk dissing “Detroit” at every opportunity (while staffing Tesla with engineers and designers with the domestic automakers on their resumes), tech behemoth Google testing a fleet of driverless cars, and even rumors of Apple getting into the car biz, there has been boasts from the West Coast and concerns from the rust belt that as computer technology becomes more and more important to how cars work Silicon Valley might displace Detroit as the center of innovation in the auto industry.

Mcity is the state of Michigan saying, “not so fast” to Silicon Valley. So far, it appears to be the only facility of its kind in the world.

The site is realistic down to the handicapped parking spaces and meters. So far no meter maids.

The site is realistic down to the handicapped parking spaces and meters. So far no meter maids.

The test environment (Mcity is adverse to calling it a mere “test track”) is supposed to replicate “the broad range of complexities vehicles encounter in urban and suburban environments.” There are about five miles of roadways including, intersections, traffic signs and signals, sidewalks, benches, simulated buildings (both fixed and moveable), street lights, and obstacles such as construction barriers, “pedestrians”, and railroad crossings. A variety of road surfaces are used including concrete, asphalt and brick paving as well as metal grid and gravel surfaces. There’s a 1,000 foot straight along with a variety of curves and ramps with different radii. There are two, three and four lane roads as well as bike lanes and a roundabout. What looks like a covered bridge is supposed to simulate tunnels and overpasses. One street is covered overhead with netting to reproduce the shade from a canopy of trees. There are parallel and angle parked cars as well as mechanized bicycles, fire hydrants and both fixed and variable lighting and traffic control devices.

IMG_0443

The Mcity facility is supported by the University of Michigan, the Michigan Dept. of Transportation, and about 50 corporate partners, including 15 “Leadership Circle” members that have each pledged $1 million.

While there are ramps and signs that look like they do on an interstate highway, there will be no high speed testing at the facility, despite the ‘road train’ of cars and trucks traveling in unison on a highway in Mcity’s animated promotional video. The top speed allowed at the facility is just 40 mph.

Mcity looks very modern and tidy. Everything follows the latest designs for roadways, etc. and I have to wonder how a car developed at Mcity might do in an urban area that’s a bit more vintage — like San Francisco or Rome. I wonder if Mcity has developed a protocol for dealing with New York City levels of litter.

Aerial photo and infographic courtesy of the University of Michigan. All other photos by the author.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Chart Of The Day: GM Set A Chevrolet SS Sales Record In June, Caprice PPV Sales Plunge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-gm-set-chevrolet-ss-sales-record-june-caprice-ppv-sales-plunge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-gm-set-chevrolet-ss-sales-record-june-caprice-ppv-sales-plunge/#comments Tue, 21 Jul 2015 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118497 Often criticized for flopping in the U.S. marketplace, Chevrolet set a sales record with the Aussie-built SS in June 2015. Prior to June’s “surge” up to a still rather paltry 354 units, Chevrolet hadn’t sold more than 300 SS sedans since March of last year, the only other time the SS has crested the 300-unit […]

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TTAC Aussie imports 2

Often criticized for flopping in the U.S. marketplace, Chevrolet set a sales record with the Aussie-built SS in June 2015.

Prior to June’s “surge” up to a still rather paltry 354 units, Chevrolet hadn’t sold more than 300 SS sedans since March of last year, the only other time the SS has crested the 300-unit mark. June 2015 SS volume was four units stronger than the March record.

Year-to-date, SS sales are down 8% to 1,534 units, just 0.4 percent of Chevrolet passenger car volume through the first-half of 2015. Chevrolet sells twelve times that many Corvettes.

2015 Chevrolet Caprice PPV

Meanwhile, GM’s other Australian import, the police-only Chevrolet Caprice PPV, is evidently disappearing from police departments’ wish lists. Caprice sales are down 54 percent to just 803 units through the first half of 2015.

Taurus Police Interceptor sales are falling, too. In fact, the Taurus alternative has suffered declining volume in each of the last seven months. Ford’s police sedan is down 5 percent this year, but it’s still more than six times as common as the SS. Ford’s Explorer Police Interceptor, on the other hand, is up 36 percent to 12,900 units in early 2015.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Land Rover Defender Production Extended Into 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/land-rover-defender-production-extended-into-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/land-rover-defender-production-extended-into-2016/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1120177 Land Rover, just after building its two-millionth Defender (pictured), looks to be extending final production of the go-anywhere utility into January of next year. According to Automotive News Europe, the manufacturer will extend production of the Defender and increase production before the new best-before date to meet renewed demand, the company said a statement. Unfortunately, none of […]

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LR_DEF_2_Million_Studio_220615_01

Land Rover, just after building its two-millionth Defender (pictured), looks to be extending final production of the go-anywhere utility into January of next year.

According to Automotive News Europe, the manufacturer will extend production of the Defender and increase production before the new best-before date to meet renewed demand, the company said a statement.

Unfortunately, none of those Defenders will be making it stateside — at least not in new condition. However, Jaguar Land Rover is looking for an additional facility, likely outside of the U.K., in order to expand future production. Contract builder Magna Styr recently signed an agreement with JLR to produce unnamed models in Austria.

The next-generation Defender, which will address tightening safety and emissions standards, is expected to launch in 2018.

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Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky Share Same Fire-Risk Parts with Hummer H3 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pontiac-solstice-saturn-sky-catching-fire-due-parts-hummer-h3-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/pontiac-solstice-saturn-sky-catching-fire-due-parts-hummer-h3-recall/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 15:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118569 Last week, we learned General Motors was recalling the majority of their Hummer H3 and H3T models due to a fire risk from a melting blower motor resistor and harness. We also learned GM didn’t issue the recall until they were threatened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A few days ago, Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban pointed out the […]

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burntmain

Last week, we learned General Motors was recalling the majority of their Hummer H3 and H3T models due to a fire risk from a melting blower motor resistor and harness. We also learned GM didn’t issue the recall until they were threatened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A few days ago, Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban pointed out the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon were also at risk due to similar components. These trucks may not be the last of the affected models as the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky also shared many HVAC components with the Hummer H3.

Searching through the NHTSA complaints database and user forums yielded many examples of melted and burnt blower motor resistors and harnesses for the GM roadster twins.

The Solstice and Sky actually have more parts in common with the H3 than even the Colorado and Canyon. While the trucks use a similar resistor with four pins, the Solstice and Sky use the same 5-pin resistor as the H3. Curiously enough, the roadsters and H3/H3T share a host of HVAC components, including the blower motor, blend door actuators and even the heater core.

Searching Solstice and Sky forums also produced case after case of melted harnesses and resistors. Many of the owners were buying the parts and replacing them on their own.

saturn1

The problem may stem from a harness that is either too short or too loose, causing arcing on the connection and resulting in melted components. The initial part number for the harness is 25797383, but it is no longer available under that number. The initial part was succeeded and released as part number 25867517 — then again as 25949869, the part that is currently available for purchase.

Part numbers can change for many reasons, including vendor changes, but I speculate in this case that GM may have changed the part to try and remedy its issues.

saturn2

Based on NHTSA records, the earliest complaints for the roadsters started showing up in 2008.

While the number of complaints for the Solstice and Sky is much lower than the H3, lower production numbers must also be taken into account when comparing total complaint counts to the H3. Despite fairly widespread issues with similar parts found on the H3,owners of Kappa-platform cars haven’t reported problems at the same rate.

The H3 recall states dealers should replace the harness and resistor module, both of which are shared parts. The 2006 Chevrolet Equinox and Pontiac Torrent use the same part number for the resistor as the H3, Sky and Solstice. There are cases of multiple failures and, as noted in the complaint below, they also show GM was directly notified of the issue. The Equinox and Torrent moved to a different resistor design after 2006 and the issues seem to have been mitigated after that point.

equinox1
GM has not issued any recalls or bulletins for these other vehicles, even though complaints and pictures of damage appear to match the H3 issues. The part number changes could be an attempt by GM to remedy the issue before a recall was required, but as we have seen before, GM can take up to a decade to actually acknowledge issues and will keep silent and order parts to try and quietly repair vehicles.

The proof is out there and the right thing for GM to do is recall all of the related models.

[Image Source: hammy221/solsticeforum.com]

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Chart of the Day: America’s Favorite Expensive Vehicles in 2015’s First Six Months http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-americas-favorite-expensive-vehicles-2015s-first-six-months/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/chart-day-americas-favorite-expensive-vehicles-2015s-first-six-months/#comments Mon, 20 Jul 2015 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114601 So many upper-crust products sit at the top of their respective automaker’s lineup and do little more than look pretty. They are flagships, technological showcases, standard bearers. On the other hand, there’s the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with its base price of more than $95,000 in the United States. Flagship? Yes. Technological showcase? That, too. Standard-bearer? Of […]

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TTAC best-selling expensive vehicles June 2015 YTD chart

So many upper-crust products sit at the top of their respective automaker’s lineup and do little more than look pretty. They are flagships, technological showcases, standard bearers.

On the other hand, there’s the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, with its base price of more than $95,000 in the United States. Flagship? Yes. Technological showcase? That, too. Standard-bearer? Of course. But the S-Class is also popular.

6.4% of the non-Sprinter sales produced by Mercedes-Benz USA come from the S-Class.

Granted, that’s down from 7.4 percent a year ago, but even that figure is skewed by the expansion of Mercedes-Benz’s already massive lineup. S-Class sales are also down 5.8 percent through the first half of 2015 after sales reached a seven-year high in 2014.

Regardless, no vehicle with a base price beyond $70,000 sells more often in America than the S-Class, which now features both a sedan and a coupe, formerly the CL-Class.

2015 Cadillac Escalade & ESV

Incidentally, the next three best-selling vehicles on the list are SUVs. Mercedes-Benz’s own GL-Class would sit atop this list with 12,938 year-to-date sales, but GL pricing starts below $65K. That likely helps to explain some of the GL’s popularity.

Clearly then, this list doesn’t take into account costly versions of lesser vehicles, whether that be the $96K BMW M5 or a $71,415 GMC Yukon Denali XL 4×4. For one thing, sales figures for distinct trim levels aren’t made available by automakers. Additionally, there’s arguably a different level of prestige afforded to a car line that’s truly expensive in all variants. And what of the Tesla Model S? We still don’t receive reliable, monthly sales reports from Tesla, but HybridCars.com estimates 11,900 year-to-date Model S sales, including a surge to 2,800 units in June alone. The Model S’s base price is now $76,200*.

* This chart and article were filed before Tesla Motors’ announcement of a new, base-model Model S, now priced at $71,200 with destination.

All base prices in chart include destination/freight/delivery.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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EU Gains Not Enough to Stave Opel Production Reductions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/eu-gains-not-enough-to-stave-opel-production-reductions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/eu-gains-not-enough-to-stave-opel-production-reductions/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1119321 Recent sales growth in the EU hasn’t been kind to Opel as the group is forced to reduce hours at two German plants. According to Automotive News, Opel will cut production of the Adam and Corsa at Eisenach and Insignia and Zafira Tourer at Ruesselsheim. The move is due to Opel’s exit from the Russian […]

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Opel Bochum - Picture courtesy wa.de

Recent sales growth in the EU hasn’t been kind to Opel as the group is forced to reduce hours at two German plants.

According to Automotive News, Opel will cut production of the Adam and Corsa at Eisenach and Insignia and Zafira Tourer at Ruesselsheim. The move is due to Opel’s exit from the Russian market and what the automaker calls “moderate” gains in the rest of Europe.

However, within the EU, overall sales for all automakers are up 8.2 percent in the first six month of this year and 14.6 percent in June, according to ACEA.

Opel and Honda are the only two automakers to see sales decline within the EU versus the same six month period last year. Opel experienced a 0.7-percent drop in overall group sales in the EU. Honda took an even harder hit with an 7.9-percent decline.

On the other end of the graph, Mitsubishi has posted 57.0-percent growth in the EU, though that percentage is based on relatively low volume compared to others. Nissan is the runner up at 21.6-percent growth while Jaguar-Land Rover (16.9 percent), Daimler (15.0 percent), FCA (12.9 percent) and BMW (12.0 percent) all saw double-digit percentage growth, beating the overall six-month average.

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Magna Completes $1.9B Acquisition of Transmission-maker Getrag http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/magna-completes-1-9b-acquisition-transmission-maker-getrag/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/magna-completes-1-9b-acquisition-transmission-maker-getrag/#comments Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:05:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118633 Supplier and sometimes-assembler Magna International will buy German transmission-maker Getrag for roughly $1.9 billion, the Detroit News is reporting. The deal would firmly plant Canadian-based Magna International as the world’s second-largest parts supplier behind Robert Bosch GmbH and ahead of ZF, which recently purchased TRW Automotive for $12.4 billion earlier this year. “The trend among the […]

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Getrag

Supplier and sometimes-assembler Magna International will buy German transmission-maker Getrag for roughly $1.9 billion, the Detroit News is reporting.

The deal would firmly plant Canadian-based Magna International as the world’s second-largest parts supplier behind Robert Bosch GmbH and ahead of ZF, which recently purchased TRW Automotive for $12.4 billion earlier this year.

“The trend among the suppliers is that we now have to be bigger as the auto makers go to us to do more for them,” Magna Chief Executive Don Walker told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

Magna is well-known for their Austrian subsidiary, Manga Steyr, which assembles cars for BMW including X5 and 5-Series, and will produce vehicles for Jaguar Land Rover.

Getrag produces transmissions for Ford, BMW, Renault, Volvo and Daimler. In addition to its significant contracts with those automakers, Getrag has a substantial business footprint in China that Magna needed, according to the Detroit News. In addition to being the largest automotive market in the world, China is the fastest growing market for dual-clutch transmissions, which Getrag produces.

The acquisition is the latest in a flurry of auto-supplier mergers and purchases. It’s the sixth major deal this year for auto parts suppliers.

Getrag produces about 4 million transmissions annually and employs about 13,500 people in Europe, Asia and North America. Magna generated about $36.3 billion in sales last year and employs around 133,000 people in 29 countries.

Walker told the Detroit News that the company would consider more acquisitions in the near future.

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