Category: Industry

By on October 16, 2017

2015 Infiniti QX70 - Image: Infiniti2017 was the 15th and final model year for the Infiniti QX70, formerly known as the Infiniti FX. Sad, sad the day.

But is the QX70/FX, a dramatically curvaceous take on the modern idea of a crossover, dead and gone for good? Perhaps not. “We are now asking ourselves what is the QX70’s role?” Infiniti president Roland Krueger rhetorically asked Automotive News, “And what should it be?”

Maybe these questions come a year or two or 15 too late, but the fact that Krueger even broaches the subject suggests a high degree of willingness to reinsert the vehicle back into Infiniti’s lineup. If Nissan’s upmarket brand could copy the degree of success the FX earned early on in its tenure — more than 30,000 were sold in America in 2004 — then the rebirth can’t come soon enough. Read More >

By on October 16, 2017

Volvo Cars Torslanda assembly plant - Image: Volvo

It’s often hard to remove an ingredient after the cake’s emerged from the oven. Because of this, news of Kobe Steel’s falsified inspection reports no doubt came with a fair bit of nervous collar tugging for executives at several automakers.

The Japanese company, which has subsidiaries in numerous countries, is a go-to supplier for the automotive and aircraft industries, providing steel, copper and aluminum components to companies as diverse as Ford and Boeing. Last week, Kobe admitted to selling substandard (or suspected substandard) materials to 500 companies, among them Ford, Volvo, Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, and possibly Mazda.

Oh, and Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, General Motors, Hyundai, and Renault.

Maybe you’ve heard of them. Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

Kia Stonic and Soul - Images: KiaIt seems so obvious as to be unmistakable. You’ve been selling an unexpectedly successful Kia Soul for nearly a decade, turning it from what was thought to be a niche-market idea into one of your most popular products.

Do that again.

Hence, here cometh the Kia Stonic. It’s not bound for America, at least not yet, but the Stonic serves elsewhere as the Kia version of the Hyundai Kona. Only unlike the Kona, the Stonic is — like the Soul — a front-wheel-drive subcompact-based “utility vehicle.”

Cargo volume? Virtually identical, at 12.4 cubic feet for the Stonic and 12.5 cubic feet for the Soul. Pricing? In the United Kingdom, the Soul stretches from £14,310 to £23,565, starting slightly below the Stonic’s £16,295 entry point and rising above the Stonic’s top-spec £20,495 price.

This overlap in price, mission, and size is exactly what the doctor ordered, so we have a few vital recommendations for Kia’s rivals. Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

2018 Honda CR-V - Image: Honda AustraliaIf Australia is an effective test bed for American tastes — and it most definitely isn’t — then the three-row version of the fifth-generation Honda CR-V would be a hit stateside.

We told you way back in April that there were plans afoot at American Honda for a utility vehicle to slot in between Honda’s two-row CR-V and three-row Pilot. We then watched, intrigued, at the level of interest among TTAC readers when we showed you images in July of Honda Australia’s three-row CR-V. Could this be the SUV Honda plans to squeeze between the CR-V and Pilot? At the time, Honda told TTAC, “We can’t make comments about any future possibilities.”

So you’re telling me there’s a possibility.

There likely is only the most limited sort of possibility. The third row can’t be linked with all-wheel drive, for starters. It’s obviously snug. And American Honda already has the Pilot, which Honda does not offer in Australia.

Nevertheless, if the Australian test bed is looked upon as a case study, American Honda would discover a three-row, seven-seat CR-V that turns out to be more popular than expected.
Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

Volkswagen Rain Commercial Screenshot - Image: Volkswagen YoutubeThis commercial is not a circa 1970 follow-up to 1969’s infamous Woodstock Music & Art Fair. It’s not a the result of marketers in the 1980s looking back 10 or 15 years. It’s not Volkswagen’s late-to-the-party retro take on counterculture. No, this is Volkswagen’s People First Warranty commercial from 2017. Today.

It is a wholehearted embrace of Volkswagen’s history. The Microbus. An original Beetle. Hippies.

“I think what’s powerful about it,” Volkswagen of America’s marketing director Greg Tebbutt says, “is we’ve got a heritage story that is unique to us and only we can tell.”

But there’s something conspicuously absent from the 60-second “Rain” spot. Read More >

By on October 13, 2017

2018 volkswagen jetta gli - image: volkswagenFor the 2018 model year, Volkswagen of America is adopting an entirely different approach to its sports sedan transmission lineup than Honda and Subaru.

Unlike the Honda Civic Si, which is available exclusively with a manual transmission, and unlike the Subaru WRX, which is available with a manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will drop the manual transmission option.  Read More >

By on October 12, 2017

2017 Chrysler Pacifica - Image: FCAMinivan sales tumbled 16 percent to only 33,358 units in September 2017, the lowest total for America’s people-carrier sector since January 2015.

Between the disappearance of two nameplates (Nissan Quest and Mazda 5), limitations on Dodge Grand Caravan sales during a period of plant transition, and further decreases from the aging Kia Sedona and new Honda Odyssey, minivan volume fell 6,460 units below September 2016’s total and nearly 11,000 units shy of September 2015’s tally, and more than 10,000 units short of 2017’s monthly average through the first two-thirds of the year.

A positive spin is difficult to find. Read More >

By on October 12, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Scirocco - Image: Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Scirocco has reached the end of the line as the death bed for the third-generation model receives its patient after a prolonged but largely unsuccessful decade.

Closely related to the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf — not the Mk6 or Mk7 that were introduced during its tenure — the Scirocco always faced headwinds in the form of Volkswagen’s own more practical Golf GTI.

Although earlier iterations of the Volkswagen Scirocco and its Corrado successor were marketed in America, the latest Scirocco never made it across the Atlantic.

“That’s a piece of the lineup that I would dearly love to see here,” then Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning said four years into the Scirroco’s tenure. The concerns, of course, were related to the fact that the Scirocco would cannibalize the GTI, and vice versa.

And for that very reason — the fact that the Scirocco couldn’t succeed alongside the Golf — the Scirocco’s European experiment is ending before a rumored fourth-gen model could ever dream of making it in America. Read More >

By on October 12, 2017

2017 Toyota Corolla Fielder Wagon JDM - Image: ToyotaToyota Motor Corporation is considering the possibility of cutting its home market product lineup by half.

Toyota currently markets more than 60 models in Japan, but there’s no expectation that the brand will suddenly cull its lineup to just 30 models by 2018. It will be a very long process, and it’s one that is likely to have minimal impact on the United States.

But which models are likely to go first? Perhaps one of the ten vans on offer. Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

218 Honda Civic Type R base illustration - Image: Honda, Illustration: The Truth About CarsAmerican Honda launched the 2017 Honda Civic Type R in a single, fully equipped variant. Although you don’t see it in emblem form on the back of the car, the 2017 Honda Civic Type R is sold exclusively in Touring trim. The model code, evidenced by NHTSA certification papers filed by American Honda and located by TTAC’s own Bozi Tatarevic, is FK8G7.

But Bozi found an extra Civic Type R in American Honda’s NHTSA filings for 2018. It’s still a Type R, it still uses the K20C1 engine that sends 306 horsepower to the front wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. But this is the FK8G3 Civic Type R, sans Touring.

There’s reason to believe it’ll be distinctly more affordable. Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

2018 Acura ILX Special Edition - Image: AcuraIt has become increasingly evident that America’s compact sedan consumers aren’t terribly interested in a semi-premium-branded version of a previous-generation Honda Civic.

Shocking.

But for 2018, the Acura ILX gains a new Special Edition. Ah, that’ll do the trick. Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

2018 Audi Q5 - Image: AudiIn concert with the American auto industry, Canada’s auto industry reported an all-time record year of sales in 2016.

The difference? In Canada, 2016 represented the fourth consecutive year of record sales. Another difference? Canadian auto sales just kept on growing throughout 2017. Most recently, that streak of increases included an 8-percent year-over-year uptick in September 2017. Sales last month were 16-percent stronger than they typically are in September.

Month after month after month, Canada’s auto industry just keeps on smashing records. It’s as if the U.S. auto industry posted its banner year of 17.5 million sales in 2016 and then bettered that with 18.5 million sales in 2017. Read More >

By on October 11, 2017

Beijing Cadillac Arena Wukesong - Image: CadillacBy the slimmest of margins, Cadillac’s U.S. operations put an end to China’s repeated dominance of Cadillac’s sales charts in August 2017.

But after Americans acquired two more Cadillacs than the Chinese did in August, normal order returned in September 2017. 49 percent of the Cadillacs sold around the world last month were delivered in China, where volume rose 38 percent, year-over-year.

Perhaps of greater consequence to Cadillac’s New York HQ is the fact that September sales not only increased in China but also in the U.S., Canada, and in its rest-of-the-world markets.

September was the 16th consecutive month of global Cadillac sales improvement. Naturally much of the credit belongs to the Cadillac XT5. Read More >

By on October 10, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Camaro Holden badge - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors’ Australian outpost is losing all of its domestic production, but that doesn’t mean Holden is shutting down all of its Australian development operations.

Late last month, we told you the Chevrolet Camaro was going to become a right-hand-drive model five years earlier than originally planned because of special rebuilds by GM’s Holden division.

But once the Chevrolet Camaro goes on sale Down Under, it will not wear the local GM badge. Read More >

By on October 10, 2017

2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV - Image: MitsubishiMitsubishi is by no means starting from scratch in the U.S. market — the product lineup is much too stale for that. But with a new marketing agency, Butler Shine Stern & Partners, coming on board and a new crossover, the Eclipse Cross, set to arrive at dealers soon, Mitsubishi is clearly not in the same position in 2017 that it was in 2009.

2017 is set to be fifth consecutive year in which Mitsubishi’s U.S. volume improves and the first year since 2007 in which Mitsubishi sells more than 100,000 vehicles. That’s still a far cry from 2002, when Mitsubishi sold 345,000 vehicles, but Mitsubishi has reasons to be pleased with the growth.

Perhaps more than any other change at Mitsubishi’s U.S. operations, however, the arrival of the plug-in Mitsubishi Outlander symbolizes a new day for Mitsubishi Motors North America. It is, after all, finally here after years of delay, and it’s an exclusive product for Mitsubishi’s dealers, free from direct competition. Yet while the dawn of the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV speaks of further commitment to the U.S. market, it’s not by any means about to become a popular vehicle. Read More >

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