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. Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:00:16 +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/ Automakers Consider Octane Increase For Better Fuel Economy, Emissions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-consider-octane-ratings-increase-better-fuel-economy-emissions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/automakers-consider-octane-ratings-increase-better-fuel-economy-emissions/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 16:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055201 Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards. At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 […]

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Octane Ratings With 2013 Fuel Prices

Automakers are looking to boost octane in the gasoline consumers use as a possible new tool to cheaply and easily meet ever-tightening standards.

At the 2015 SAE World Congress in Detroit last week, panelists representing Ford, General Motors, Chevron, and Renewable Fuels Association discussed the idea of raising the octane rating of regular gasoline from 87 to 95, Automotive News reports.

The group agreed that by doing so, fuel economy would climb between 3 percent and 6 percent while also lowering CO2 emissions by 2 percent. In turn, the engineers could make a few modifications to the pistons and/or cylinder heads in order to increase a given engine’s compression ratio – a process that can occur quickly with little in the way of investment or labor – to enable the use of higher-octane fuels.

However, boosting the octane rating would also boost the price per gallon of gasoline. The U.S. Energy Information Administration noted that the current gulf between regular and high-octane blends comes to an average of 37 cents as of last week. While automakers aren’t willing to make their consumers pay more at the pump for the touted improvements, they’re also finding less inexpensive methods to meet increasingly stringent fuel economy and emissions standards, such as the 2025 mandate of 54.5 mpg fleet average.

Another problem: as newer vehicles with higher-compression engines would benefit from the increase in octane, Chevron research engineer Amir Maria said most vehicles on the road at present would be better off on 87 octane – the rating the engines were calibrated to run – and consumers would be dinged by as much as $1,500 more over 200,000 miles if they went for 95 octane.

[Photo credit: Upupa4me/Flickr]

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Oh, So This Is Why BMW Thinks The Sports Car Market Isn’t Going To Recover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/oh-bmw-thinks-sports-car-market-isnt-going-recover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/oh-bmw-thinks-sports-car-market-isnt-going-recover/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 14:08:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055089 It’s been five months since BMW’s sales boss, Ian Robertson, made news by questioning the long-term viability of the sports car. “The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be. Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover,” Robertson said. BMW, of course, is the maker of […]

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BMW Z4

It’s been five months since BMW’s sales boss, Ian Robertson, made news by questioning the long-term viability of the sports car. “The sports car market is roughly half of what it used to be. Post-2008, it just collapsed. I’m not so sure it’ll ever fully recover,” Robertson said.

BMW, of course, is the maker of the Z4, a car which generates only one-tenth the volume now that it did when launched as a successor to the Z3. In other words, it’s not much wonder BMW wonders whether outright sports cars have a future. 

Just how bad has the Z4’s situation become? Only 802 were sold in the first-quarter of 2015, down 6% compared with the same period one year ago. The Z4 accounted for just 1% of BMW brand volume over the last three months; just 1.5% of BMW passenger car sales. Naturally, roadsters aren’t typically major contributors to an automaker’s volume, but the Z4 was at one time. During a five-year span from 2003 onward, the Z4 was responsible for 5% of the brand’s U.S. sales.

USA Sports Car sales chart BMW Z4

It’s not as though BMW hasn’t significantly altered the Z4 to make it more appealing to a broader cross-section of the buying public. Previously a softtop convertible or a hardtop model, the Z4 has used a retractable hardtop since the 2009 relaunch.

Sales hardly perked up, however, and have only declined since. Only 2010’s marginal 7% increase and 2006’s 22% jump interrupted a streak that saw Z4 sales decline in nine of the last eleven years.

All of this brings us to the month of March 2015, the first time in a year that Z4 volume climbed beyond 300 units. Yet on a year-over-year basis, even March’s 422 sales revealed a 29% decline. Z4 volume has decreased in nine of the last 14 months; Z4 volume has increased only eight times in the last two years.

Yet while reports of sports car death seem to make a special amount of sense when BMW’s delivering the reports, it’s not as though Z4 rivals are contradicting Robertson’s theme.

The Audi TT’s U.S. volume has declined in nine of the last twelve years.

Mercedes-Benz SLK sales in America decreased in six of the last nine years.

Porsche Boxster sales in 2014 fell 15% in 2014 after rising to an eight-year high in 2013, but 2014 volume for the Boxster and Cayman, combined, was down 26% compared to the Boxster’s total from 2002.

The Nissan Z’s 2014 U.S. sales tally was less than one-fifth the total achieved in 2003.

One key exception: although the Chevrolet Corvette’s average U.S. annual volume dwindled to 14,230 units between 2009 and 2013, GM sold more than 34,000 Corvettes in 2014, the best year since 2006.

Since the quote from Ian Robertson was given in November, U.S. Z4 volume has fallen 5%.

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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Canada Loans €400M to Volkswagen for Chance at Supplier Table http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/canada-loans-e400m-volkswagen-chance-supplier-table/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/canada-loans-e400m-volkswagen-chance-supplier-table/#comments Mon, 27 Apr 2015 11:35:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1055073 As Volkswagen plans to expand in Chattanooga and Puebla, the Canadian government is loaning €400 million ($433.8 million USD) to the German automaker in exchange for possible future supplier business. Export Development Canada, a Crown corporation (an entity owned entirely by the Government of Canada), announced the “financing is designed to create opportunities for qualified small and medium-sized […]

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Volkswagen Chattanooga Tower

As Volkswagen plans to expand in Chattanooga and Puebla, the Canadian government is loaning €400 million ($433.8 million USD) to the German automaker in exchange for possible future supplier business.

Export Development Canada, a Crown corporation (an entity owned entirely by the Government of Canada), announced the “financing is designed to create opportunities for qualified small and medium-sized Canadian companies to win new business with the global automotive giant as they grow their operations in North America.” The loan is being extended to Volkswagen with “market-rate interest and administrative fees.”

“There’s no doubt Canada needs Volkswagen more than Volkswagen needs Canada,” said Phil Taylor, spokesperson for EDC, to the Windsor Star.

The financial agreement gives smaller Canadian companies exposure to Volkswagen as they tool up their North American operations for future product. Suppliers can register their products or services on a website run by EDC.

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Range Rover Sales Are Booming In The U.S. – $80K+ SUV Outsells Evoque, Flex, Yukon XL, GLA, Cayenne http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/range-rover-sales-booming-u-s-80k-suv-outsells-evoque-flex-yukon-xl-gla-cayenne/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/range-rover-sales-booming-u-s-80k-suv-outsells-evoque-flex-yukon-xl-gla-cayenne/#comments Sun, 26 Apr 2015 14:30:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053201 Land Rover USA reported more than 1000 Range Rover sales in each of the last six months and in eight of the last nine months. Year-over-year volume has now increased in four consecutive months as well as in seven of the last eight months. But it was the month of March in particular that drew […]

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2015 Land Rover Range Rover

Land Rover USA reported more than 1000 Range Rover sales in each of the last six months and in eight of the last nine months. Year-over-year volume has now increased in four consecutive months as well as in seven of the last eight months.

But it was the month of March in particular that drew special attention to U.S. sales performance of one of the world’s best known high-end SUVs.

Land Rover reported 1996 Range Rover sales in America in March 2015, a 151%, 1202-unit year-over-year increase.

Three out of every ten Land Rovers sold last month in the U.S. were Range Rovers, a luxury SUV with a USD base price above $80,000 (and options which take the MSRP well beyond $140,000). Only Land Rover’s second-most-expensive model, the Range Rover Sport, sold more often, thanks to a 51% jump to 2646 March sales.

Land Rover
March
2015
March
2014
%
Change
3 mos.
2015
3 mos.
2014
%
Change
Range Rover Sport
2,646 1,747 51.5% 6,225 4,823 29.1%
Range Rover
1,996 794 151% 4,835 2,884 67.6%
Range Rover Evoque
1,284 1,370 -6.3% 3,794 3,176 19.5%
LR4
841 157 436% 2,065 1,144 80.5%
LR2
11 331 -96.7% 57 1,052 -94.6%
Total
6,778
4,399 54.1% 16,976 13,079 19.8%

The Range Rover, reviewed in long-wheelbase form by Kamil Kaluski on TTAC last fall, outsold the whole Jaguar brand by 336 units and outsold Jaguar’s flagship, the XJ, by nearly five to one. The Infiniti QX80 trailed the Range Rover by 580 March sales. The Range Rover sold 82% more often than the steadily improving Lincoln Navigator.

Combined, the Toyota Land Cruiser, Lexus LX570, and Mercedes-Benz G-Class didn’t sell half as often as the Range Rover in March. High-end SUVs which outsold the Indo-Brit Range Rover all have distinctly lower base prices, from the Cadillac Escalade ($73K, 2758 March sales between standard and long-wheelbase derivatives) to the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class ($64K, 2365 March sales). Porsche Cayenne volume slipped 27% to 1364 units; the BMW X6 was up 58% to 587 March sales.

Yet more than the Range Rover’s ability to outsell a bevy of high-end SUVs (thanks to its first 1800+ month of sales since December 2005), the truly impressive thing about operating at a 2K monthly pace is the number of rather more mainstream (allegedly) vehicles outsold by the most costly Land Rover.

2015 LAnd Rover Range Rover

The Buick Regal, Ford Flex, GMC Yukon XL, and Mazda CX-9 are just some of the volume brand vehicles which didn’t sell as often as the Range Rover last month. Add to that list much talked about vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Nissan Leaf, Cadillac CTS, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X1, and Land Rover’s own Range Rover Evoque.

No, it’s not a one-time thing. The Regal, Flex, CX-9, Leaf, CTS, Cayenne, X1, and Evoque all trail the suddenly high-volume Range Rover on a year-to-date basis, not just in the month of March. And by high-volume, we mean nobly aristocratic. The Range Rover is the SUV of royals, after all.

As for the overarching brand, Land Rover says the brand “established a new March U.S. sales record with 6,778 units sold.” Five nameplates combined for a 54% YOY improvement. The Range Rover trio of nameplates generated 85% of the brand’s March U.S. volume.

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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BREAKING: Piëch Resigns Chairmanship, Winterkorn Continues as CEO at VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/breaking-piech-resigns-chairmanship-winterkorn-continues-ceo-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/breaking-piech-resigns-chairmanship-winterkorn-continues-ceo-vw/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 17:26:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1054273 While Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn wears bruises from the conflict, Ferdinand Piëch has paid the ultimate of price and resigned his chairmanship with immediate effect. According to Reuters, the ongoing row between CEO and Chairman at Volkswagen eased this past week, but when the group’s supervisory board put their support behind Winterkorn, the 78-year-old grandson of Ferry Porsche was […]

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"It wasn't Domino's. Someone delivered Wiedekings head." Piech and Winterkorn.  Picture courtesy handelsblatt.de

While Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn wears bruises from the conflict, Ferdinand Piëch has paid the ultimate of price and resigned his chairmanship with immediate effect.

According to Reuters, the ongoing row between CEO and Chairman at Volkswagen eased this past week, but when the group’s supervisory board put their support behind Winterkorn, the 78-year-old grandson of Ferry Porsche was left “isolated” in a five-to-one vote. Sources told the newswire service Piëch’s decision to not support Winterkorn put his own position in jeopardy. Piëch’s wife, Ursula, also resigned her positions within the company.

Piëch will be replaced by Deputy Chairman Berthold Huber in the interim. A vote on when a new Chairman will be chosen has not been announced.

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Chart Of The Day: Imagine The U.S. Auto Industry Without Pickup Trucks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chart-day-imagine-u-s-auto-industry-without-pickup-trucks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chart-day-imagine-u-s-auto-industry-without-pickup-trucks/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 16:34:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053169 With 29% and 30% of their U.S. sales coming from pickup trucks, respectively, General Motors and Ford Motor Company fall from the top two positions to the second and third when auto manufacturer sales are compared without pickups. Toyota, therefore, becomes the top dog with 507,000 non-pickup sales through the first-quarter of 2015, 21,000 more […]

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Industry sales chart no pickup trucks

With 29% and 30% of their U.S. sales coming from pickup trucks, respectively, General Motors and Ford Motor Company fall from the top two positions to the second and third when auto manufacturer sales are compared without pickups.

Toyota, therefore, becomes the top dog with 507,000 non-pickup sales through the first-quarter of 2015, 21,000 more cars, vans, SUVs, and crossovers than General Motors.

Excluding Frontiers, Titans, and Ridgelines doesn’t change the fact that Nissan and Infiniti are still outselling Honda and Acura. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles nearly pulls level with Ford MoCo when the Ram and dominant F-Series, America’s best-selling vehicle line, are left out of the equation.

Those figures don’t accurately reflect the state of the industry. That’s why today’s chart of the day also includes the actual figures. But the second subject line would clarify the state of the industry if the top manufacturers couldn’t lean on their pickup popularity.

U.S. pickup truck sales are up 12% to 567,560 through the first-quarter, equal to 14% of the industry’s year-to-date volume.

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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Wall Street Journal v. GM: A Public Battle For Editorial Independence http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/wall-street-journal-v-gm-public-battle-editorial-independence/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/wall-street-journal-v-gm-public-battle-editorial-independence/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 17:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053417 Once upon a time, The Wall Street Journal faced off against General Motors over editorial independence, and won. According to ProPublica president Richard Tofel, who wrote an entire chapter about the story for his book, “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” the conflict between the two giants […]

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Renaissance Center

Once upon a time, The Wall Street Journal faced off against General Motors over editorial independence, and won.

According to ProPublica president Richard Tofel, who wrote an entire chapter about the story for his book, “Restless Genius: Barney Kilgore, The Wall Street Journal, and the Invention of Modern Journalism,” the conflict between the two giants began over 60 years ago this May.

The story goes that GM CEO Harlow “Red” Curtice happened upon a report in the WSJ about the tactic of selling excess inventory through smaller independent dealers at cut-rate prices – bootlegging – a tactic used by his company and his competitors in Detroit. The report also covered the editorial policies of the newspaper’s local competitors – which had banned advertising of non-franchise dealers involved in bootlegging – citing the Detroit Three’s influence in advertising departments had begun to creep into the newsroom.

As a result, Ward’s Automotive Reports had cut the WSJ off from its weekly newsletter subscription. However, an exclusive published in late May – styling renders of the 1955 models from the Detroit Three – was the straw that broke Curtice’s back.

Fearing that sales of 1954 models would crash as a result of the exclusive, GM cancelled all of its advertising with the newspaper that day and barred access to its weekly production figures; the Associated Press was also barred when GM learned the Journal had tried to go through the media organization to get the figures. Editor Barney Kilgore later told Time magazine his paper declined to attend the “off-the-record” new-model briefing that year, citing the Detroit Three’s tendency to go “off the record” nearly all the time as the reason for not playing the game.

What followed was two months of editorials defending its stance on the two stories, letters to the editor from readers who either weren’t happy with Kilgore’s decision or stood behind the newspaper, and a number of other publications, such as Ad Age and Tide magazine (an advertising trade journal, not to be confused with Time), calling out GM and Curtice’s behavior in the matter.

Speaking of the letters, Kilgore chose one from a reader to pass along with one of his own – calling for a way to settle the issue reasonably – to Curtice. The letter, by Roy Brenholts of Columbus, Ohio, stated that Brenholts would trade one of his two Cadillacs for a Ford instead of trading the Ford he owned for a Chevrolet, adding that he would avoid Cadillac until GM stopped their “Hitlerite attitude” toward the newspaper.

The meeting between Curtice and Kilgore led to two letters being published back-to-back in early July. Curtice wrote that breaking off relations with the WSJ was better than suing – though he wouldn’t hesitate to consider the latter next time – but that he never intended to interfere with editorial. Kilgore, in return, noted that the flow of information – weekly sales figures, news releases et al – had come back to normal, his paper had the right to publish news from authorized and unauthorized sources, and he, not the advertisers, would be the final arbiter in what was published in the first place. This established the WSJ as a newspaper with unflappable independence and integrity before the public in so doing.

[Photo credit: Robert Emperley/Flickr]

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2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata Improves Over 2015 Model In Fuel Economy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-improves-2015-model-fuel-economy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/2016-mazda-mx-5-miata-improves-2015-model-fuel-economy/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:13:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053529 Owners of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will experience better fuel economy compared to the outgoing 2015 model. Those who choose to pair the roadster’s 2.0-liter Skyactiv I4 with a six-speed automatic will see EPA-rated numbers of 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined, according to Edmunds. Those who pick the manual […]

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Mazda North American Operations MX5Club

Owners of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will experience better fuel economy compared to the outgoing 2015 model.

Those who choose to pair the roadster’s 2.0-liter Skyactiv I4 with a six-speed automatic will see EPA-rated numbers of 27 mpg city, 36 mpg highway, and 30 mpg combined, according to Edmunds. Those who pick the manual six-speed, meanwhile, will the same mpg figures in the city and combined, but lose 2 mpg on the highway.

The new ratings are a 29 percent improvement over the 2015 model, whose six-speed auto or manual/2.0-liter I4 combo netted 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway, and 23 mpg combined; the five-speed manual had the same highway figure, but gained 1 mpg in the city and 2 mpg combined in comparison.

The improvements are likely linked to the loss of 150 pounds in weight for both 2016 variants, coming to 2,332 for the manual and 2,381 for the auto.

As far as what else the MX-5 Miata has in store for new and old fans alike, Jack Baruth went behind-the-scenes not too long ago to bring back his impressions on the next-gen roadster.

[Photo credit: Mazda]

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Chevrolet Sonic’s U.S. Subcompact Market Share Is Plunging – Started Near The Top Now It’s Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-sonics-u-s-subcompact-market-share-plunging-started-near-top-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-sonics-u-s-subcompact-market-share-plunging-started-near-top-now/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053129 GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year. As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly […]

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Chevrolet Sonic sales chart

GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year.

As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly 13,000 units over the last three months.

The Sonic ranked as the second-best-selling subcompact in the United States through the first three months of 2014, a position it held at this stage of 2013 and in each of the last three calendar years.

But through the first three months of 2015, the Sonic is America’s fifth-best-selling subcompact, 25,683 sales back of the top-selling Nissan Versa, a vehicle it trailed by fewer than 11,000 units at this stage in 2014.

In 2014’s first-quarter, the Sonic’s market share climbed to 19% thanks to a 4124-unit improvement year-over-year. A market share drop of nearly ten percentage points just one year later is a shock to GM’s small car system.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic lineup

Chevrolet Spark sales are down 5% this year. Chevrolet Cruze volume is off by 7%. Overall Chevrolet car sales are down 17%. Likewise, General Motors car volume in the U.S. is down 17%, a 45,487-unit deficit (year-over-year) that’s been erased by a 21% surge in light trucks, including a 48,046-unit increase among pickup trucks.

GM has known for quite some time that demand for the Sonic was way below previous expectations. Automotive News reported three months ago that Sonic production at the Orion plant in Michigan would be suspended to clear out a Sonic glut.

But it’s taking a while. At the beginning of this month, GM had a 160-day supply of Sonics. That’s well down from the 258-day supply one month earlier, but still well in excess of the 59-day average across the industry.

Meanwhile, the Sonic isn’t the only subcompact suffering from a downturn. The aging Ford Fiesta is down 22% this year. Kia Rio volume has plunged 37%. The Mazda 2, in a replacement phase, is down 94%. But none of those holes are as large as the one left by the dramatically less popular Sonic, without which the subcompact category would be up 1% 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.

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Mercedes Eyeing Crossovers For Maybach, smart Brands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-eyeing-crossovers-maybach-smart-brands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-eyeing-crossovers-maybach-smart-brands/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 06:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053545 Not too long ago, Mercedes didn’t have plans for either a Maybach or smart crossover. Looks like those plans have changed. Should the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand gain a crossover to place alongside the S600 and Pullman models, sales and marketing boss Ola Kallenius says the Mercedes GLS set for 2017 would be “the more likely scenario,” […]

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Mercedes-Maybach 01

Not too long ago, Mercedes didn’t have plans for either a Maybach or smart crossover. Looks like those plans have changed.

Should the Mercedes-Maybach sub-brand gain a crossover to place alongside the S600 and Pullman models, sales and marketing boss Ola Kallenius says the Mercedes GLS set for 2017 would be “the more likely scenario,” Autocar reports.

The GLS would differ from the current GL/GLS model, as it would be based upon the S-Class’ current architecture to better go up against other high-end luxury SUVs and crossovers. It would also be powered by the same 6.0-liter twin-turbo V12 found in the S600 as well as a 4.0-liter V8 possible for tax purposes in China. Diesel, however, would be out of the question, as Mercedes expects to move the GLS in China and the U.S. where diesel isn’t on the radar of most motorists.

Meanwhile, smart could gain an SUV or crossover based on the forfour/Renault Twingo platform, a move that would bring greater use to said platform beyond its current role. The vehicle would likely improve smart’s long-term profit margins, though Daimler AG chief Dieter Zetsche cautions there would be some engineering challenges involved with the platform’s rear-engine, rear-drive design.

[Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz]

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Marchionne Isn’t Finding Any Potential Dates For Marriage http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-isnt-finding-potential-dates-marriage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/marchionne-isnt-finding-potential-dates-marriage/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 19:09:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052385 Though FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is still looking to merge his company with another automaker, no one is all that willing to tie the knot. Despite Marchionne’s quest to consolidate the industry by leading by example, he’s managed to strike out in some way with Ford, General Motors, Peugeot, Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen. Regarding GM, CEO Mary […]

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2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus

Though FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne is still looking to merge his company with another automaker, no one is all that willing to tie the knot.

Despite Marchionne’s quest to consolidate the industry by leading by example, he’s managed to strike out in some way with Ford, General Motors, Peugeot, Renault-Nissan and Volkswagen.

Regarding GM, CEO Mary Barra stated Thursday that her company already had plans of its own and that it wasn’t interested in consolidation with another automaker, according to Detroit Free Press:

We laid out a comprehensive plan that takes us through the early part of next decade. We’re already in that top tier. We have a well-articulated plan and we are not going to entertain anything that would distract us from achieving that plan.

Meanwhile, a proposed tie-up with Volkswagen came to naught, though Marchionne stated such a thing was never in the cards in the first place, despite claims by VW Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch of having met with FCA officials to discuss buying a part or all of FCA.

Though there are still other smaller automakers Marchionne could pursue in the spirit of consolidation, like Mazda and Tata, there’s the issue of his own company’s performance as of late. Already stuck with large debts, Forbes states profitability is a major issue among shareholders regarding the automaker. In the U.S. alone, the issue stems from its pursuit of sales volume over profit via aggressive incentivizing. As a result, margins remain at 4 percent and pre-tax earnings have climbed a mere $2.7 billion, even with revenues doubling by $40 billion since the start of the new decade. Thus, no company would likely consider consolidating with FCA.

As for why Marchionne is banging the drum of consolidation, especially as far as his company is concerned, it comes down to survival in the face of competition from outsiders like Google and Apple. The arrival of non-traditional companies like the two tech giants could force automakers to keep up with the pace of change such companies would set the further the latter group digs into the former.

For now, though, the FCA CEO laments the difficulty in finding a partner, going as far as to provide Bloomberg with a metaphor about the search earlier this month:

One of the most difficult things to do is to get the turkey to invite himself to Thanksgiving dinner.

[Photo credit: FCA]

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General Motors Doing Well In Midsize Truck Segment, Success May Not Last http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/general-motors-well-midsize-truck-segment-success-may-not-last/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/general-motors-well-midsize-truck-segment-success-may-not-last/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052369 General Motors’ return to the midsize truck segment has done wonders for the automaker and the market, but skeptics aren’t sure how long that will last. Ever since the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins left for the showroom last fall, the segment has grown to over 2 percent of the overall U.S. new-vehicle market […]

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2015 Chevrolet Colorado front side 2

General Motors’ return to the midsize truck segment has done wonders for the automaker and the market, but skeptics aren’t sure how long that will last.

Ever since the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins left for the showroom last fall, the segment has grown to over 2 percent of the overall U.S. new-vehicle market from 1.4 percent last summer, Reuters reports. Industry execs add that as many as 500,000 midsize pickups could be sold this year, double what was sold in 2014.

However, IHS Automotive analyst Tom Libby found that 9 out of 10 Colorado and Canyon owners traded in other GM cars and trucks for the smaller pickups, with over 16 percent coming from ownership of Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras alone. Libby warns this could be a sign of undercutting of sales of models with higher margins.

GM execs and dealers, on the other hand, are happy with the midsize twins. GM President Dan Ammann called the duo a “very good investment,” while GMC’s director of marketing, Rich Latek, says the midsize segment as a whole is “a sleeper segment with huge opportunity.” AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson adds the Colorado and Canyon happen to have been the right trucks to come at the right time to give the segment a shot in the arm.

The party may not last for the duo, though. LMC Automotive notes that the segment would hold at 2 percent for this year, then slip back down by 2020. Meanwhile, the twins would fizzle out from projected sales of 74,000 for the Colorado and 29,500 for the Canyon this year, falling 8.4 percent and 21 percent over the next five years.

[Photo credit: Blake Z. Rong/The Truth About Cars]

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Fifth-Gen Honda Step WGN Debuts With New 2016 Civic Engine, Tailgate System http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fifth-gen-honda-step-wgn-debuts-new-2016-civic-engine-tailgate-system/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/fifth-gen-honda-step-wgn-debuts-new-2016-civic-engine-tailgate-system/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 17:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052169 Honda revealed the fifth-gen Step WGN for the Japanese market Thursday, which not only features a new flexible tailgate, but the same engine planned for the 2016 Civic. The main draw for the seven-passenger Step WGN is the “Waku Waku” tailgate, which can be lifted up in most circumstances, or can be opened from the side […]

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Honda Step WGN 01

Honda revealed the fifth-gen Step WGN for the Japanese market Thursday, which not only features a new flexible tailgate, but the same engine planned for the 2016 Civic.

The main draw for the seven-passenger Step WGN is the “Waku Waku” tailgate, which can be lifted up in most circumstances, or can be opened from the side via the tailgate’s sub-door. The sub-door has three levels of opening angles, allowing greater ease of access to cargo for occupants when the kei van is parked in a tight space, such as a shopping center or home garage. Third-row passengers can also use the door to exit without opening the full tailgate when the door is paired with the third-row 60-40 Magic Seat.

Under the hood is the 1.5-liter direct-injection VTEC turbo set to provide power for the 2016 Civic. Horsepower and torque figures were not mentioned at this time, but Honda claims output is “equivalent to that of a 2.4-litre engine even while driving with multiple passengers and on hilly roads.” Power is directed to the front or all four corners via CVT.

[Photo credit: Honda]

Honda Step WGN Gallery

Honda Step WGN 01 Honda Step WGN 05 Honda Step WGN 09 Honda Step WGN 02 Honda Step WGN 06 Honda Step WGN 10 Honda Step WGN 07 Honda Step WGN 08

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James May Bidding Farewell To Top Gear Unless Clarkson Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/james-may-bidding-farewell-top-gear-unless-clarkson-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/james-may-bidding-farewell-top-gear-unless-clarkson-returns/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:17:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052281 Top Gear presenter James May is saying farewell to the show, as hosting it with Richard Hammond and a “surrogate” Jeremy Clarkson would be “lame.” May explained hiring a replacement for the dismissed host is a “non-starter” at best, as the chemistry that made the trio what it was would be hard to replicate without Clarkson, […]

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James May

Top Gear presenter James May is saying farewell to the show, as hosting it with Richard Hammond and a “surrogate” Jeremy Clarkson would be “lame.”

May explained hiring a replacement for the dismissed host is a “non-starter” at best, as the chemistry that made the trio what it was would be hard to replicate without Clarkson, according to The Guardian:

It has to be the three of us. You can’t just put a surrogate Jeremy in and expect it to carry on. It would be forced. I don’t believe they would be stupid enough to try that.

May added he’d like to continue working with the BBC on other projects and there may be a possibility of all three returning to Top Gear someday.

Regarding Clarkson’s dismissal as a result of the “fracas” between he and producer Oisin Tymon in March, the host says the BBC “haven’t completely closed the door on Jeremy’s return,” adding the broadcaster only decided not to renew his contract instead of outright firing and/or banning him.

Whether the trio would reunite for a production elsewhere, May did not rule it out, though non-compete clauses in at least one of the presenters’ contracts would make the jump difficult for now.

May also said he would be happy to film new studio and other footage for the remaining three episodes of Top Gear previously cancelled. The BBC says those three would air sometime this year, with this summer being the earliest.

[Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons]

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Volkswagen Takes Silver In Quarterly Sales Amid Lingering Leadership Battle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volkswagen-takes-silver-quarterly-sales-amid-lingering-leadership-battle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volkswagen-takes-silver-quarterly-sales-amid-lingering-leadership-battle/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 16:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052129 While the dust-up between chairman Ferdinand Piëch and CEO Martin Winterkorn lingers on, Volkswagen looks to take silver on the global sales podium in 2015. Amid reports from German press agency dpa regarding Piëch’s desire to replace Winterkorn with either Porsche’s Matthias Mueller or Skoda’s Winfried Vahland prior to VW’s annual shareholder meeting early next […]

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2013 Volkswagen Up

While the dust-up between chairman Ferdinand Piëch and CEO Martin Winterkorn lingers on, Volkswagen looks to take silver on the global sales podium in 2015.

Amid reports from German press agency dpa regarding Piëch’s desire to replace Winterkorn with either Porsche’s Matthias Mueller or Skoda’s Winfried Vahland prior to VW’s annual shareholder meeting early next month, the chairman denied the allegations to German newspaper Bild, Automotive News Europe reports.

Piëch said he had agreed to support Winterkorn following a meeting with board members in Austria last week. However, broadcasting network NDR says the chairman doesn’t feel bound by the agreement, and is seeking support from the Porsche and Piëch families to oust the CEO. The two families hold 50.7 percent of VW voting rights, a factor that could sway the state of Lower Saxony and German unions to vote in favor of Piëch’s chosen champion for the role. Both groups, though, stand firm behind Winterkorn and the board’s decision.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen is closing in on its immediate goal of becoming the second largest automaker in the world by the end of 2015. According to AutoGuide, the automaker sold 2.49 million units from its family of brands between January and March 2015, edging out General Motors for the second spot on the sales podium by 70,000 units; Toyota retains the gold for now. The figure is also a 1.8-percent improvement compared to 2014.

[Photo credit: Volkswagen]

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Can American Honda Really Sell 2000 Civic Type Rs Per Month? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/can-american-honda-really-sell-2000-civic-type-rs-per-month/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/can-american-honda-really-sell-2000-civic-type-rs-per-month/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052033 It’s going to be a while before you can buy a next-gen Honda Civic Type R in North America. We’ve seen the relatively thinly veiled version of the next Civic. Patent images were published on TTAC last week. But, according to AutoGuide’s Colum Wood, American Honda’s Executive Vice President, John Mendel, told reporters after the […]

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2001 Honda Civic Type RIt’s going to be a while before you can buy a next-gen Honda Civic Type R in North America.

We’ve seen the relatively thinly veiled version of the next Civic. Patent images were published on TTAC last week. But, according to AutoGuide’s Colum Wood, American Honda’s Executive Vice President, John Mendel, told reporters after the New York Auto Show that the Civic Type R won’t appear here until at least 2017. “It could be an ‘18 by the time it gets here,” Mendel said.

Clearly, the pricing scheme for the Civic Type R is many months away from being revealed, let alone determined. Yet the most interesting revelation from Mendel wasn’t about the wait, but rather the number of Type Rs Honda believes the company can sell in the United States each month after the car arrives.

“I’d hope we could sell a couple thousand a month,” Mendel said, a number which – in current terms – would have accounted for approximately 8% of the Civics sold in America in the first-quarter of 2015.

Sound high?

2015 Honda Civic Concept

Sales figures for many direct Civic Type R rivals aren’t made public. Ford, for example, doesn’t isolate Focus ST numbers from the overall Focus’s monthly tally, nor are the Focus RS’s figures likely to be discussed.

Subaru, however, has averaged nearly 2200 WRX/STi sales over the last 15 months. Granted, those are combined numbers, not completely dissimilar from a Civic Si/Type R combo. Volkswagen’s latest edition of the Golf R is only now being launched. 478 were sold in March, the Mk7 Golf R’s second month on sale. Over the last nine months, VW USA averaged 1816 monthly Golf GTI sales.

However, the Impreza on which the WRX and STi are based and the Golf that’s used as a foundation for the GTI and R don’t compete in the same league as the Civic family. The Civic is America’s second-best-selling small car. The Impreza is, at best, a moderately high-volume car. Even at its current fast-growing clip, the Golf is a low-volume compact.

Through the first-quarter of 2015, the WRX/STi accounts for 32% of all Impreza sales. The GTI outsells the diesel and gas-powered Golf, though only by a slim margin.

Civic Type R future sales chart

A sampling of current sales figures of potential CTR rivals

Two questions come to mind. One, is there space in the hot hatch market (yes, the WRX/STi are sedan-only) for 2000 more monthly sales from a new entry? Two, even with the Civic hatch originating in the UK, does the overall Civic family’s breadth and popularity potentially make 2000 monthly sales a small matter?

As always, it’ll come down to price. Subaru USA manages to sell more than 2000 WRXs and STis each month with base prices around $27,000 and $35,000. The GTI is only slightly more value-conscious than the WRX; the Golf R is slightly more dear than an entry-level STi. Honda will have the advantage of offering the newer, brighter, flashier thing, a thing we haven’t been able to own in North America before.

The very fact that American Honda wants to sell around 2000 Civic Type Rs per month suggests the price point may indeed be in the affordable realm, which could be some of the best news enthusiasts have received in quite some time.

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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Mercedes Slapped With $56M Fine in China for “Price Fixing” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/mercedes-slapped-56m-fine-china-price-fixing/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1052089 The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date. The latest fine aimed at a foreign automaker comes after similar actions against a “Chinese venture of […]

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Mercedes-Maybach-S600-Pullman

The Chinese province of Jiangsu has levied a 350 million yuan ($56 million USD) fine against Mercedes-Benz in continued efforts to break perceived monopolies in car and part sales. It’s the largest fine given to an automaker to date.

The latest fine aimed at a foreign automaker comes after similar actions against a “Chinese venture of Volkswagen and a sales unit of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler division” amounted to a combined $46 million, says the report from Automotive News. The specifics of the Mercedes fine point at the automaker forcing dealers to set minimum prices for cars and spare parts. The pricing regulator in Jiangsu province also fined Mercedes dealers to the tune of 7.7 million yuan ($1.25 million USD).

Mercedes-Benz China said they accept the decision taken by the provincial pricing regulator and has “taken all appropriate steps” to comply with the law in the future.

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Suzuki Recalls 2M Amid Reports Of Smoking Ignitions http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/suzuki-recalls-2m-amid-reports-smoking-ignitions/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 22:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1051009 Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part. The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, […]

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2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Suzuki is recalling a record 2 million vehicles to replace ignition switches amid reports of smoke and fumes being emitted from the part.

The recall adds 1,873,000 vehicles to the 168,000 previously recalled late last month, Reuters reports. Both figures apply to nine models made in Japan, including the Chevrolet Cruze, Mazda AZ-Wagon, Mazda Carol, and Suzuki’s own Alto, Wagon R and Swift. The recall for the latter three covers vehicles built between 1998 and 2009.

Another 133,700 models in the new recall were sold overseas in Australia and Europe, including the aforementioned Swift, Alto and Cruze.

Thus far, 67 reports of smoking switches have been reported, including 18 in police cars. The reports have all come from Japan.

[Photo credit: Kuha455405/Wikipedia]

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Volvo Group Appoints Martin Lundstedt To CEO Role http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volvo-group-appoints-martin-lundstedt-ceo-role/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/volvo-group-appoints-martin-lundstedt-ceo-role/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 21:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050953 In a surprise move by Swedish truck builder Volvo Group AB, the company has replaced president and CEO Olof Persson with Scania AB boss Martin Lundstedt. Group chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told The Wall Street Journal the board came to the conclusion the company would be “better served by someone with longer experience in the truck industry” […]

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Martin-Lundstedt

In a surprise move by Swedish truck builder Volvo Group AB, the company has replaced president and CEO Olof Persson with Scania AB boss Martin Lundstedt.

Group chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg told The Wall Street Journal the board came to the conclusion the company would be “better served by someone with longer experience in the truck industry” than Persson, who had been its CEO for four years prior to Wednesday’s announcement. Svanberg added that one couldn’t reach world leadership via cost-cutting – such as the kr10-billion ($1.15 billion USD) program from 2012 through 2015 that cut 4,000 jobs – but through “clear vision” of what the company seeks to accomplish.

The move comes after Swedish business newspaper Dagens Industri reported claims of Svanberg seeking to replace Persson amid frustrations with Volvo Group’s performance despite the overhaul program meant to improve profit margins. The company’s shareholders held similar criticisms of Persson’s restructuring program and the pace at which it was implemented.

As for what Lundstedt will bring to the table, Svanberg praised his 25 years of experience in the commercial truck industry as well as his “winning leadership style.” Lundstedt shares some of the credit in maintaining Scania’s margins in the market, which had stood at 9.2 percent throughout 2014.

Lundstedt will take over as Volvo Group’s CEO in October. Chief Financial Officer Jan Gurander – who worked under Lundstedt as Scania’s CFO in the early 2000s – will be the company’s interim leader effective immediately.

[Photo credit: Scania]

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VW Group Board Supporting Winterkorn In Leadership Conflict http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/vw-group-board-supporting-winterkorn-leadership-conflict/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/vw-group-board-supporting-winterkorn-leadership-conflict/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 19:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050873 VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn gained a few key supporters in the leadership conflict between he and chairman Ferdinand Piëch. The company’s six-member supervisory board’s leadership committee met with Piëch in his office in Austria last week to declare their support, according to Autoblog, following similar actions made by Wolfgang Porsche, Volkswagen’s global works council, […]

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Winterkorn, Piech, Piech - Picture courtesy Volkswagen

VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn gained a few key supporters in the leadership conflict between he and chairman Ferdinand Piëch.

The company’s six-member supervisory board’s leadership committee met with Piëch in his office in Austria last week to declare their support, according to Autoblog, following similar actions made by Wolfgang Porsche, Volkswagen’s global works council, and the German state of Lower Saxony. The board also let it be known they may extend Winterkorn’s contract beyond 2016 and should Piëch refuse to agree to public support of the CEO they would demand Piëch’s resignation.

The leadership battle is linked to a few problems Piëch has had with Winterkorn for some time, particularly VW’s ongoing sales woes in the United States. Alongside similar problems in Brazil, overall profits taking a downturn, and competitor BMW grabbing the green-car title among the German automakers, Piëch believes the CEO lacks the vision needed to pull his company into a better place in the industry. For now, though, Piëch is holding to his part of the deal with the board.

[Photo credit: Volkswagen]

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Tesla Unveiling Home, Business Battery Products April 30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/tesla-unveiling-home-business-battery-products-april-30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/tesla-unveiling-home-business-battery-products-april-30/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050849 Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon. The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the […]

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2013 Tesla Model S Cargo areas

Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon.

The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the unveiling would explain “the advantages” of its home and business battery products and why current options aren’t as compelling as what Tesla has to offer.

Though scant details have come out about the batteries, Tesla’s plans aim to put the automaker as a leader in the emerging energy storage market. Many players in the market look to not just supplement, but ultimately surpass the traditional electric grid. The automaker and sister company SolarCity have already signed up companies like Wal-Mart and Cargill for their energy storage pilot program in California to help establish and accelerate said plans.

[Photo credit: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

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Lincoln Turning To Proper Names For Future Models http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/lincoln-turning-proper-names-future-models/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/lincoln-turning-proper-names-future-models/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 17:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050825 Just as Cadillac embraces an all-new set of alphanumeric naming schemes, Lincoln is deciding that proper names may be better after all. Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs told reporters attending an industry breakfast hosted by Detroit law firm Dawda Mann that his company was “very excited about the Continental name and the attention […]

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LincolnContinentalConcept_10_Detail_Badge

Just as Cadillac embraces an all-new set of alphanumeric naming schemes, Lincoln is deciding that proper names may be better after all.

Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs told reporters attending an industry breakfast hosted by Detroit law firm Dawda Mann that his company was “very excited about the Continental name and the attention it’s gotten,” Automotive News says. Lincoln had made it known during the Continental Concept’s appearance at the 2015 New York Auto Show this month that the production model — set to replace the outgoing MKS — would also be called Continental.

Hinrichs also had this to say about the MK nomenclature as a whole:

I get it. I know MKX and C and Z and T. I’ve studied them very well. I know them well, but we also understand the issue. It’s, frankly, where the auto industry — the premium industry — has gone, if you look at all the nameplates. But another way Lincoln could distinguish itself is to leverage its heritage. So I’ll leave it at that.

The MK scheme was originally thought of as a tribute to the Continental Mark series, though then-CEO Alan Mulally told the media at the time that he wasn’t enamored with the scheme; he would later come to terms with the change. Now that Lincoln is coming back under the tutelage of current CEO Mark Fields, however, one of the ways it aims to stand apart from other premium brands is to return to using names like Continental, Town Car et al.

Proper names may also help on the showroom floor: while sales of the MK models are down 7.2 percent thus far in 2015, sales of the Navigator — the sole bearer of a proper name in Lincoln’s lineup — have climbed 84 percent over the same period, though part of that could be attributed to lower prices at the pump fueling renewed overall demand for trucks and SUVs, as well.

[Photo credit: Lincoln]

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The Top 10 Fastest-Growing Auto Nameplates In America: 2015 Q1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/top-10-fastest-growing-auto-nameplates-america-2015-q1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/top-10-fastest-growing-auto-nameplates-america-2015-q1/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 14:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1049929 The Kia Sedona is the fastest-growing auto nameplate in the United States so far this year, nearly quintupling its first-quarter volume to 7670 units in 2015’s first three months. We chose not to factor in the GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado, and Audi A3, all of which actually recorded even year-over-year percentage improvements, not because they’re […]

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The Kia Sedona is the fastest-growing auto nameplate in the United States so far this year, nearly quintupling its first-quarter volume to 7670 units in 2015’s first three months.

We chose not to factor in the GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado, and Audi A3, all of which actually recorded even year-over-year percentage improvements, not because they’re not selling at a far more prodigious pace than they did a year ago, but because they weren’t available in new or old form at this stage last year. Nor were the Kia K900 and Ram ProMaster, vehicles which would also have cracked the top ten.

At this time in 2014, Kia was finishing off its second-generation Sedona minivan. The new van, reviewed on TTAC earlier this month, didn’t truly take over until the fourth-quarter. Kia’s on track to sell more than 30,000 Sedonas in the U.S. this year, more than discontinued and/or forgotten vans like the Mazda 5 and Nissan Quest, but a far lower total than that which will be reported by the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, Dodge Grand Caravan, and Chrysler Town & Country.

Rank
Auto
YOY % Change
2015 Q1
2014 Q1
#1
 Kia Sedona + 398% 7,670 1,539
#2
 Volkswagen Golf +139% 12,763 5,350
#3
 BMW 2-Series + 138% 2,147 904
#4
 Mini Cooper + 136% 9,295 3,946
#5
 Cadillac Escalade ESV + 122% 3,073 1,383
#6
 Cadillac Escalade + 117% 4,826 2,223
#7
 Lincoln Navigator + 84% 2,875 1,561
#8
 Land Rover LR4 + 81% 2,065 1,144
#9
 Chevrolet Suburban + 77% 11,876 6,724
#10
 Honda Fit + 73% 18,094 10,444

Volkswagen’s 139% Golf increase takes into account the conventional Golf’s 117% jump to 5559 sales, the GTI’s 108% increase to an even higher total of 5754 units, a 5900% improvement (to 840 sales) from the Golf R, plus 506 e-Golfs and the first 104 Golf SportWagens.

BMW’s official sales figures simply continued to be released as though the 1-Series simply became the 2-Series, which it basically did, albeit in new-gen form. Compared to the first-quarter of 2014, 2-Series/1-Series sales are up by 1243 units.

2015 Honda Fit grey

Jointly, the Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV are up 119% to 7899 sales, year-to-date. That figure is important, because Lincoln Navigator volume is reported with combined figures for the regular and long-wheelbase iterations.

Two more SUVs and a subcompact car fill out the top ten. Measured by units added, no vehicle in the top ten managed to beat the 7650-unit increase of the tenth-ranked Fit. On that note, none of these cars rank among the fastest-growing nameplates in America in terms of extra sales year-over-year. Mini, for example, which sold 4930 2-door Coopers and 3294 4-door Coopers along with 1071 Convertibles, Coupes, Roadsters, and Clubmans, isn’t about to challenge vehicles like the Honda Pilot (+14,850 sales in Q1) or Ford Mustang (+10,215), let alone the Chrysler 200 (+18,663) or Chevrolet Silverado (+18,937).

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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USC Students Fund Nugg Medical Marijuana App Via Lyft Referrals http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/usc-students-fund-nugg-medical-marijuana-app-via-lyft-referrals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/usc-students-fund-nugg-medical-marijuana-app-via-lyft-referrals/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 20:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050393 What happens when medical marijuana meets pink mustaches? For one thing, an app called Nugg. Los Angeles Times says a trio of University of Southern California students — Alex Milligan, Collin Mann and Kam Babazade — unveiled Nugg on Monday in honor of 420 Day. The app provides medical marijuana patients in Los Angeles and […]

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What happens when medical marijuana meets pink mustaches? For one thing, an app called Nugg.

Los Angeles Times says a trio of University of Southern California students — Alex Milligan, Collin Mann and Kam Babazade — unveiled Nugg on Monday in honor of 420 Day. The app provides medical marijuana patients in Los Angeles and Orange counties the ability to not only order their prescriptions, but to set up delivery from the dispensary of choice or pick up.

To use Nugg, the patient submits a photo of their ID and a doctor’s note for verification. Barring that, the patient can also schedule an evaluation prior to using the app.

As for how the students funded development for the app, they referred rider upon rider to transportation network company Lyft, netting $10 to $20 per referral. Thirty thousand referrals later, the trio raised $100,000 to develop Nugg.

Though the Lyft cash is still being spent, Milligan says a number of venture capital firms have sent associates to be signed on as advisors. He adds that the main challenge is keeping pace with regulations surrounding medical marijuana, as well as making the service appeal to a wide range of users, young and old.

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Ford Vignale Mondeo Ready To Deliver Total Package To Europe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ford-vignale-mondeo-ready-deliver-total-package-europe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/ford-vignale-mondeo-ready-deliver-total-package-europe/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1049993 It’s brown, it can be had as a wagon with diesel power and a manual, but like the new Taurus in China, the Ford Vignale Mondeo will never come here. The Vignale Mondeo is the first of the upscale Vignale models to emerge from Ford of Europe’s Vignale Centre in Valencia, Spain. The centre will also […]

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Ford Vignale Mondeo

It’s brown, it can be had as a wagon with diesel power and a manual, but like the new Taurus in China, the Ford Vignale Mondeo will never come here.

The Vignale Mondeo is the first of the upscale Vignale models to emerge from Ford of Europe’s Vignale Centre in Valencia, Spain. The centre will also be responsible for bringing the S-Max Vignale to European showrooms later this year. Pre-orders for the Mondeo are set for May, with interested customers able to place those orders in-person at one of the so-called Vignale Lounges inside FoE’s new flagship FordStores across Europe.

And what will those new Vignale owners receive when they take delivery of their wagon or sedan? For starters, power comes from either a 2.0-liter EcoBoost producing 202 and 237 horses, a 2.0-liter TDCi diesel good for 178 horses, a twin-turbo 2.0-liter TDCi delivering 207 horsepower, or a hybrid powertrain capable of 185 horsepower. The EcoBoost models send their power through a six-speed auto, while the diesels go through either a six-speed manual or a PowerShift automatic. Either way, the power is directed to the front or (on occasion) all four corners as determined by Ford’s iAWD intelligent all-wheel drive system.

Outside, the Vignale Mondeo can be had in a handful of shades, including an exclusive brown tone called Vignale Nocciola. Chrome door details, 18-inch alloys, and high-gloss front and side exterior trim pieces contribute to the “sleek, emotive design” of the Mondeo, says Ford.

Inside, heavy use of sound-deadening insulation and acoustic glass help keep NVH levels down, while active noise cancellation ensures that the engine noise will never dominate one’s enjoyment of Vivaldi’s “Spring,” as played through Sony’s DAB 12-speaker audio/navigation system.

Other features include: Sync 2 connected-vehicle system; traffic sign recognition; dynamic LED headlights; inflatable rear seat belts; heated steering wheel; pre-collision assist; quilted leather seating with tuxedo stitching; custom luggage and other fashion accessories; and a wide array of Vignale-branded bespoke services, as handled by “a dedicated Vignale relationship manager.”

While North American consumers won’t have a Vignale of any sort to consider, Lincoln’s comeback is more than enough to push aside the thought of a “Vignale All the Things” Fusion.

FordVignale_Mondeo_4door_01 FordVignale_Mondeo_4door_12 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_05 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_01 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_02 FordVignale_Collection_16 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_03 FordVignale_Mondeo_Wagon_04 FordVignale_Collection_18 FordVignale_Collection_14 FordVignale_Mondeo_4door_02

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