The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 26 May 2015 10:31:53 +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 » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/new-cars/ Mazda USA Isn’t Importing The New 2: Here’s Why http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mazda-usa-isnt-importing-new-2-heres/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mazda-usa-isnt-importing-new-2-heres/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:51:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075034   Although the car’s been certified for sale in the United States, Mazda won’t be bringing the new 2 to American consumers. That doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there for the future, according to Automotive News, nor does it mean the 2 won’t appear in the United States in another form. Despite significant improvements, the […]

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2016 Mazda 2

“It’ll always be there if we need it.” – Robert Davis, Senior VP Of Mazda U.S. Operations, on Mazda2.

Although the car’s been certified for sale in the United States, Mazda won’t be bringing the new 2 to American consumers. That doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there for the future, according to Automotive News, nor does it mean the 2 won’t appear in the United States in another form.

Despite significant improvements, the fourth-generation 2 – formerly known as the Demio and a successor to the first 2 sold in the U.S. – would likely have fared little better than its predecessor.

Mazda began selling the 2 in the U.S. in 2010, at a time when consumers were mad about saving money, not just in terms of payment but also in terms of fuel. Auto consumers are now far more willing to fork over more of their hard-earned cash, even if it means extending the term of their loan.

As a result, subcompact car volume has taken a hit. Through the first four months of 2015, sales of the departing 2 and its better-selling rivals from Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, and Kia are down 4%. In fact, April was the first month this year in which subcompact sales increased on a year-over-year basis.

2010 Mazda2

Even before the recent downturn in subcompact car sales and the discontinuation of the America’s first Mazda 2, the subcompact Mazda was not among the leaders in its category. On the contrary, the opposite was true.

Since July 2010, over 58 months, Mazda has sold just 61,909 copies of the 2 in the United States. Nissan can sell that many Versas over the span of just six months.

Mazda2 sales peaked in the model’s second full year of 2012 at just 19,315 units. Yet even in 2012, the 2 ranked last in its category. Even non-traditional small cars like the Fiat 500 and late-to-the-party cars like the Dodge Dart (which only competed in the second-half of 2012) outsold the 2 in its best-ever U.S. sales year. Moreover, Mazda was able to sell six times as many copies of the 3 in 2012 as the 2.

Now, with the CX-3 junior crossover arriving to help the compact 3 bolster Mazda’s volume, the simple cost of marketing the 2, a car which has passed U.S. regulatory hurdles, is deemed to be greater than the potential profit earned from actually selling the car.

If it’s difficult for a large automaker to create sufficient margins on high-volume subcompact cars, it’s obviously going to be far more challenging for a small automaker like Mazda to create sufficient profit of a low-volume car like the 2. While it’s true that consumers would be quick to look at the new 2 differently (there’s no 4-speed automatic, there’ll be a greater feature array including head-up display, fuel economy is said to be 20% better) it’s clear that Mazda believes what’s past is prologue. The first bound-for-America 2 flopped. The experiment didn’t pay off. Let’s not do it again.

2016 Mazda 2 fueleconomy.gov

Meanwhile, for consumers who want a Mazda 2, they’ll still be able to buy one. It won’t be a hatchback, and it won’t wear a Mazda badge. But the upcoming Scion iA is, in essence, a 2016 Mazda 2. From fueleconomy.gov, we can assume that the iA will achieve the same fuel economy as the 2 was said to achieve, since the government website is still showing that the 2 will be made available.

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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Will the GenX Nano Erase Tata’s ‘Cheapest Car’ Stigma? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/will-genx-nano-erase-tatas-cheapest-car-stigma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/will-genx-nano-erase-tatas-cheapest-car-stigma/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:26:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071194 It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer […]

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It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer – albeit, basic – four wheeled automobiles, the very fact the original 2009 Nano was the least expensive car on sale anywhere in the world proved to be an albatross around the Nano’s tiny neck. Even Indians aspiring to the middle class of a developing country, it turns out, aspire to be seen in something other than the cheapest car in the world. They’d rather buy a used Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, the hatchback that more or less defines India’s entry level car segment. In recognition of that reality, the new GenX Nano will now be positioned as an entry level hatchback to more directly compete with the Alto 800, Hyundai Eon and the newly announced Renault Kwid.

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While some saw the Nano as India’s Model T, prompting comparisons of Ratan Tata to Henry Ford, the historical reality is while Henry Ford had a great idea in making cars for the average consumer, not just the wealthy, the Model T was far from the cheapest car on the market when it was introduced. While it’s true that productivity and cost improvements allowed Ford to eventually drop the price of the T to less than $300, that was in 1924. When the Model T was introduced in 1908 (as a 1909 model) it cost $850. By comparison, a Brush Runabout cost less than $500 in 1908. Henry Ford didn’t face the stigma of selling the cheapest car in the world when he launched the Model T.

brush__500_runabout

In a 2013 interview, while claiming it was never his personal goal, Ratan Tata admitted it was a mistake for his company to market the Nano on price.

“It became termed as a cheapest car by the public and, I am sorry to say, by ourselves, not by me, but the company when it was marketing it. I think that is unfortunate,” Tata told CNBC.

Around the same time, which would have been while the GenX Nano was being developed, brand positioning guru Jack Trout publicly suggested that Tata kill the Nano. But, in launching the GenX Nano, Tata Motors Senior Vice President for passenger vehicle product and chief Nano engineer Girish Wagh said, “Never did we have discussion about killing the brand.” Wagh admitted the company erred in not recognizing the “societal status” needs of those upgrading from a two-wheeler to an actual automobile and that the launch of the GenX Nano meant creating a “perception change” for both the Nano and for Tata as a maker of passenger cars. Wagh told the Economic Times, while they haven’t yet discussed killing the Nano, the relaunch is indeed a “make or break” effort for Tata’s sub-brand.

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When the original Tata Nano was launched, the “cheapest car in the world” was big news globally, even though it was designed primarily for the domestic Indian market. The Nano’s existence persuaded some very big automakers to reexamine their plans concerning low cost passenger cars and their strategies about export hubs and the developing world.

 

Bajaj Re60

Bajaj Re60. Image: Bajaj

In the Indian market a number of companies started developing low cost cars, with Maruti introducing the Alto 800, the latest version of the Suzuki Alto with a smaller, older engine. Scooter and three-wheeler maker Bajaj, working with Renault-Nissan, introduced their first four wheel vehicle, the RE60, a low cost, low speed car for the commercial autorickshaw market. The French-Japanese automotive alliance revived the Datsun brand with the $5,000+ Go for the Indian market. The Go hasn’t exactly gone as well as Mr. Ghosn had hoped, so Renault itself just introduced the $4,700 Kwid to India. The GenX Nano will be priced from $3,150 to  $4,550.

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For all that news and influence, Nano sales have been disappointing for Tata. Tata has sold only as many Nanos in six years, about 250,000 units, as they had hoped to sell in the first two years of Nano production. Currently, the factory in Sanand, Gujarat is operating at just 15 percent capacity and sales this year are down 20 percent from last.

 

Original Tata Nano instrument panel

Original Tata Nano instrument panel. Wikimedia commons photo

Tata acknowledges they misjudged just how aspirational Indian consumers are at even the lowest entry level of car ownership and they are now relaunching the Nano for the third time. It’s really more than a relaunch, though. The Nano has been substantially rengineered and equipped with features to reposition it as a city car, an entry level hatchback, hopefully removing the stigma of being the cheapest car in the world. That’s a stigma the corporate owners of one of the world’s storied luxury automobile brands, Jaguar, can’t really afford to have.

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After collecting consumer impressions from over 1,000 Nano owners and half again as many of owners of other entry level Indian cars, Tata is hoping that a safer, all-new design and features like an automated transmission and Bluetooth connectivity (not earlier available at the price point) will allow it to more directly compete with other small hatches like the Chevrolet Beat, Hyundai Eon, and the Maruti Alto 800. The Eon and Alto 800 each sell about ten times as many units per month as the outgoing Nano. Even the highest priced GenX Nano will still undercut comparable Maruti Altos by 50,000 rupees, or about $800 at current exchange rates.

 

Renault Kwid

Carlos Ghosn introducing the new $4,700 Renault Kwid. Round trip Business Class airfare on Air France for Paris-Mumbai starts at $2,500. Kinda puts global business into perspective. Renault photo.

There is talk, not denied by Tata, of a bigger 1.0-liter engine to be offered a year down the road in addition to the 660 cc twin that currently powers the Nano, along with a possible diesel option. Right now, the GenX Nano has about half of the power to weight ratio of the Alto 800, which has, as the name indicates, a 796 cc engine. Because the engine is relatively loaded down, the GenX Nano is projected to get slightly worse fuel economy than the Alto 800, about 21 km per liter of petrol vs 22.7.

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The Tata Nano began as Ratan Tata’s dream of getting Indians who sometimes transport entire families on motorcycles and scooters into an unquestionably safer, enclosed, four-wheeled vehicle. It then became what, I think, was a rather impressive feat of engineering to a price point, removing all but the essential. That price point was “one lakh” or 100,000 rupees, the equivalent of about $2,000 US when the Nano was launched in 2009. The project had setbacks from the beginning, with farmers and politicians protesting the original factory location, delaying production. And because we’re in the internet age, fires in a small number of early production Nanos went viral around the world, harming the car’s image. Then Ratan Tata’s dream ran into the fact the families riding on motorcycles had aspirations greater than owning the world’s cheapest car. Indians would apparently rather drive a used example of a more expensive car.

 

Original Tata Nano

Original Tata Nano. Wikimedia commons photo

The first relaunch stressed the value of the Nano by emphasizing low monthly payments, but that only reinforced the image of the Nano as a cheap car. A second relaunch of the slightly more upscale Nano Twist models ran into the fact that, by then, competitors in India had products like the Beat and Alto 800 on the market.

 

Tata Nano Twist

Tata Nano Twist

This time, Tata has abandoned the cheapest car in the world scheme and decided to make a better Nano. As mentioned, much of the design and engineering of the original Nano was about taking things out, like using three lug nuts instead of at least four. By comparison, the GenX Nano’s development was more about putting things in than taking things out.

 

Maruti Alto 800

Maruti Alto 800

Tata says with the use of more high strength steel, crush zones, and side intrusion beams, the Nano’s body is much stronger and safer. It now also has a functional hatch with up to 110 liters of cargo space in the trunk. The original Nano was a four door, not a hatchback. Though the engine has been more or less unchanged, it’s been recalibrated for better urban fuel economy based on Tata engineers’ real-world observations of driving in major Indian markets. Mechanically, the biggest change is the availability of an automated manual transmission. While Tata is no longer marketing the Nano as the cheapest car in the world, the launch publicity did mention that the GenX Nano will be the “most affordable” car with an automated manual transmission.

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In addition to the structural and drivetrain changes, the GenX Nano has a new instrument panel, a stronger air conditioner (something very important with India’s climate), power steering, modern connectivity, and better NVH performance. While the overall silhouette hasn’t changed, the GenX Nano has a new face and rear end, with new bumpers, lamps and a honeycomb grille. The changes are intended to appeal to young, aspirational Indians, particularly women who will like the “Easy Shift” automated manual. Women take a targeted role in the GenX Nano’s marketing and dealers report 20 percent of those who have already booked a GenX Nano – which is already on sale with deliveries scheduled in about two months – are females.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When the original Nano was introduced in 2009, I saw more than a couple of online comments from consumers in North America wondering why a car that cheap couldn’t be sold on this continent. As it turns out, a car that cheap can’t be sold in great numbers on the Indian sub-continent, let alone in North America, where something as relatively advanced and luxurious when compared to the Nano, like the Mitsubishi Mirage, struggles in the market. In time, the Nano project may turn out to be a success. But, whatever success it will have will now be based on its virtues as an automobile compared to competing products, not by being the cheapest car anywhere on the planet.

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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BMW Debuts 3.0 CSL Hommage Concept http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/bmw-debuts-3-0-csl-hommage-concept/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/bmw-debuts-3-0-csl-hommage-concept/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 18:25:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1073578 BMW has dug into its history books, picked out one of the prettiest, fastest, lightest cars of note, and built this as a tribute – the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage Concept. Details are light at the moment as BMW has yet to send out a release, but the bustling crowd at the 2015 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este […]

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Fat Car, Erwin Wurm photo - flickr user russelljsmith

BMW has dug into its history books, picked out one of the prettiest, fastest, lightest cars of note, and built this as a tribute – the BMW 3.0 CSL Hommage Concept.

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Details are light at the moment as BMW has yet to send out a release, but the bustling crowd at the 2015 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este has already been afforded a first look of BMW’s latest concept. The new car features widened bodywork and a dramatic rear wing in the style of the original CSL.

We will have more on BMW’s latest Hommage as the story develops.

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Nissan IDx is Super-Dead, But Parts May Live On in FWD Platform http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/nissan-idx-is-super-dead-but-parts-may-live-on-in-fwd-platform/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072786 Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx. That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z. While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview […]

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Nissan IDx Freeflow Concept

Nobody at Nissan is talking about IDx.

That’s what we learned from Pierre Loing, Vice President of Product Planning for Nissan North America. But, there’s a chance certain styling elements could make their way to other products, or possibly even a front-wheel drive performance option below 370Z.

While at the 2016 Nissan Maxima media preview in Nashville, Tennessee, we had a chance to prod Loing on what could be the future of IDx considering its overwhelmingly positive reception in Tokyo and Detroit.

Nissan IDx Freeflow / IDx NISMO

“IDX is an interesting project; a show car that received good reception. But, to go from concept to production, the reality always kicks in,” Loing said about the future of IDx as we saw it revealed in Tokyo.

The reality is auto manufacturers are finding it difficult – or impossible – to build a small, rear-wheel drive performance vehicle and make money. Either a current platform, like that of the 370Z, needs to be shrunk down, or a whole new platform needs to be engineered to serve one niche vehicle.

2016 Nissan 370Z NISMO

Unfortunately, at least for Nissan, the 370Z platform isn’t an option.

“Small, sporty cars are very attractive for consumers but not in huge numbers. To do them properly – in our case – you can’t rely on an existing rear-wheel drive platform, because its dimensions are for a much larger powertrain. So, for us, it would mean developing a different rear-wheel drive platform and then we are bumping into the same obstacles every other automaker has: the volumes of a small, sporty car are not enough to justify the investment,” said Loing.

With the current Z doing quite well, at least in the eyes of Nissan as top-dollar NISMO models make up nearly 20 percent of units sold, going down-market is going against the market. Also, based on Loing’s remarks about size, it doesn’t look like we will be getting a smaller Z car next time around.

But, since it was the IDx’s design garnering the most attention, could it transfer to something else?

“It wouldn’t be the same design because, of course, the proportions are based on a rear-wheel drive platform,” Loing explained. “But that kind of retro 510 inspired design was very well received in Japan and in the U.S. (when Nissan debuted in Tokyo and Detroit), and to some extent in Europe as well. So, yeah, that could be an option – among other ones, it could be an option.

“I think we may still have some room (to add a retro-inspired car). We have a wide lineup.”

And with the new Maxima pumping out 300 horsepower to the front wheels alone, a FWD performance compact is possible.

Renault Megane RS 275

“If you look at the Alliance, Renault has some extremely strong front-wheel drive cars that are very sporty; Megane RenaultSport, for example, holds the front-wheel drive record on the Nurburgring. So, yes, it is possible within the limitations of front-wheel drive today.”

But, is that something Nissan is considering? Loing held his cards close to his vest.

“You will have to come back in a few years to see if it has materialized or not. *laughs* But, we do show cars to test reactions all the time, so those reactions are included in the debate on future global products. Sometimes they will be the deciding factor to go one way or another. Sometimes they won’t.”

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Forget 2016: Is Now The Time To Buy A 2015 Honda Pilot? Many Thousands Say It Is http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/forget-2016-now-time-buy-2015-honda-pilot-many-thousands-say/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/forget-2016-now-time-buy-2015-honda-pilot-many-thousands-say/#comments Fri, 22 May 2015 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071794 After U.S. sales of the Honda Pilot soared to a seven-year high in calendar year 2013, the fifth year for the second-generation Pilot, sales predictably declined 14% last year. Even in a booming SUV/CUV market, the Pilot was old and boxy; the Toyota Highlander was new and, well, less boxy. Yet over the final two […]

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2014 Honda Pilot

After U.S. sales of the Honda Pilot soared to a seven-year high in calendar year 2013, the fifth year for the second-generation Pilot, sales predictably declined 14% last year. Even in a booming SUV/CUV market, the Pilot was old and boxy; the Toyota Highlander was new and, well, less boxy.

Yet over the final two months of 2014 and the first four months of 2015, Pilot volume has shot through the roof. During this six-month span, U.S. sales of the outgoing Pilot have improved by 44%, a gain of nearly 21,000 sales, year-over-year.

You know why, of course. Deals on the Pilot finally became wonderfully attractive. Right now, for example, just as Honda finally allows publications to render their verdict following Kentucky test drives from weeks ago, American Honda is advertising lease deals on the Pilot SE AWD with payments of $289 over three years with $2,899 due at signing.

As Pilot inventory dwindles – there are fewer than 9,000 in stock at U.S. dealers according to Cars.com for a vehicle which is routinely selling more than 11,000 copies per month – dealers are offering significantly more than $5,000 off 2015 Pilots. A TrueCar Pricing Trend example suggests the average price paid for a Pilot fell by 9% over the last five months.

2016 Honda Pilot Elite

The new Pilot will be more efficient, safer, arguably more attractive, and more spacious (particularly behind the second row) but the base price for the 2016 model will only be $125 higher than it was in 2015. That slight MSRP differential ignores the out-the-door price paid for a remaining 2015 model and the no-incentives price of the brand spanking new Pilot that’ll be roaming parking lots near you very shortly.

So is now the time to buy a 2015 Honda Pilot, seven years after its launch, with crash test results like this, AWD city fuel economy of 17 mpg rather than 19, and a cargo area shaped like this rather than this?

Over the last four months, 48,103 U.S. buyers have answered with a resounding, “Yes,” to that question, compared with 30,796 at this time last year.

Healthy Pilot sales have been vital for American Honda this year, as the Accord, Civic, Crosstour, CR-Z, Insight, Odyssey, and Ridgeline have all posted notable sales decreases. Excluding the CR-V (America’s best-selling utility vehicle) and the Pilot, Honda brand sales are down 7%, a 20,000-unit loss.

Lineup fully intact, Honda sales are up 1% through the first four months of 2015.

Indeed, the numbers for the outgoing Pilot may be so strong that, one year down the road, what should turn out to be generally healthy sales for the forthcoming third-gen Pilot may appear weak in comparison. That’s one sign of an aggressive clear-out.

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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Marchionne: AWD Minivan Will Lose Stow ‘N Go or Gain Electric Motor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-awd-minivan-will-lose-stow-n-go-or-gain-electric-motor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/marchionne-awd-minivan-will-lose-stow-n-go-or-gain-electric-motor/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 17:45:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072338 Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year. According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give. Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation […]

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2015 Chrysler Town & Country

Move over, Toyota. You won’t be the only automaker hocking an all-wheel drive minivan when the new Town & Country arrives next year.

According to Sergio Marchionne, the next minivan will get all-wheel drive, but something’s gotta give.

Packaging constraints as they are, and the Town & Country’s features as they are, the next generation minivan can only bring all-wheel drive to fruition in one of two ways: ditch Stow ‘N Go to free up space under the passenger floor or implement a hybrid system with an electric motor driving the rear wheels. “It’s not that complicated. We’re exploring both,” said Marchionne, Automotive News reports.

Considering the popularity of Stow ‘N Go for Chrysler’s minivan twins, the latter option seems most likely, and it isn’t without precedent.

Starting with the second-generation Cube in Japan, Nissan offered a system called “e4WD” that sent power to the electrically-driven rear wheels when the front wheels slipped. It also eliminated the need for a center coupling and reduced parasitic loss typically associated with mechanical all-wheel drive systems.

The new Chrysler minivan will debut at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in January before heading off to dealers later the same year as a 2017 model.

[h/t AutoGuide]

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Fiat Aegea Is the Dodge Dart for Elsewhere http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fiat-aegea-is-the-dodge-dart-for-elsewhere/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fiat-aegea-is-the-dodge-dart-for-elsewhere/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:18:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072098 Fiat, in conjunction with Tofaş R&D, revealed its new compact three-box Aegea sedan project at the Istanbul Motor Show. The new sedan, which will get a different name when it goes to production, is the first of three new models to be introduced for the EMEA region, replacing the Linea sedan and Bravo hatchback. Designed in Italy and engineered […]

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Fiat Aegea

Fiat, in conjunction with Tofaş R&D, revealed its new compact three-box Aegea sedan project at the Istanbul Motor Show. The new sedan, which will get a different name when it goes to production, is the first of three new models to be introduced for the EMEA region, replacing the Linea sedan and Bravo hatchback.

Designed in Italy and engineered in Turkey, the Aegea project sits atop the same ‘small wide’ platform as the Fiat 500L/500X, Jeep Renegade and (to a lesser degree) Dodge Dart. With a wheelbase of 2,640 mm (103.9 inches), the Aegea is only 2.5 inches shorter than the Dart at the wheels. The new sedan sits at 4,500 mm (177.2 inches) long, 1,780 mm (70.1 inches) wide and 1,480 mm (58.3 inches) tall. Fiat also states the sedan is “large enough to seat 5 well built passengers comfortably with a load capacity of over 510 litres.”

Four engines will be available in the Aegea family. Two Multijet II turbodiesels and two gasoline engines, mated to manual and automatic transmissions, will produce between 95 and 120 hp.

The Ægea name pays tribute to the Aegean Sea that is “the symbolic bridge between East and West.”

The new sedan will go on sale in Turkey in November and later in other EMEA markets.

NOTE: The car will be built at the same plant where there’s currently a labor dispute. That November on-sale date could slide a bit if the situation isn’t resolved soon.

Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea

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Report: Autonomous Vehicles Displacing Traditional Models Over 25 Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/report-autonomous-vehicles-displacing-traditional-models-over-25-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/report-autonomous-vehicles-displacing-traditional-models-over-25-years/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 20:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071738 Per a report from Barclays, U.S. new-car sales may fall as much as 40 percent over the next 25 years as shared autonomous vehicles take hold of the market. Analyst Brian Johnson said large automakers would need to dramatically slash North American production in order to survive a future where nearly half of all families […]

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Audi A7 Piloted Driving Vehicle At CES 2015

Per a report from Barclays, U.S. new-car sales may fall as much as 40 percent over the next 25 years as shared autonomous vehicles take hold of the market.

Analyst Brian Johnson said large automakers would need to dramatically slash North American production in order to survive a future where nearly half of all families in the market move to a vehicle shared by all members of the family, Bloomberg reports. General Motors and Ford specifically would need to cut production by 68 percent and 58 percent respectively to weather the transition.

Johnson adds annual sales would decline 40 percent to 9.5 million units annually by 2040, while the number of cars on the road would fall 60 percent to 100 million:

While extreme, a historical precedent exists. Horses once filled the many roles that cars fill today, but as the automobile came along, the population of horses dropped sharply.

The analysis points to the rise of four categories of vehicles: traditional models driven by those in rural areas; autonomous vehicles owned by a single family; “robot taxis” summoned via smartphone app; and autonomous vehicles in ride-sharing fleets such as van and bus pools. The shared vehicles would remove nine traditional vehicles from the road, with pooled units taking out 18.

Cost of mobility would also fall regarding the aforementioned robot taxis, with average rates per mile as low as 88 cents for a private car, and 4 cents for a shared two-seater. The category would prove a boon to transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft, as well as low-cost vehicle producers and autonomous tech companies.

[Photo credit: Audi/Facebook]

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Study: 2025 54.5 MPG CAFE Target Within Reach http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-2025-54-5-mpg-cafe-target-within-reach/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/study-2025-54-5-mpg-cafe-target-within-reach/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 19:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071722 Per a new study by the Consumer Federation of America, U.S. average new-car fuel efficiency is well on its way to hitting the 54.5-mpg target set for 2025. The study looked over 1,163 new models, finding those rated at 23 mpg and above by the EPA gained a couple of percentage points between 2014 and […]

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White House 2025 54.5 MPG Graphic

Per a new study by the Consumer Federation of America, U.S. average new-car fuel efficiency is well on its way to hitting the 54.5-mpg target set for 2025.

The study looked over 1,163 new models, finding those rated at 23 mpg and above by the EPA gained a couple of percentage points between 2014 and 2015, rising from 50.5 percent to 52 percent of overall new-car sales, Edmunds reports. Meanwhile, those averaging 16 mpg and below declined from 8.5 percent of sales last year, to 6.1 percent this year.

Taking the 2015 podium for complying with the fuel economy standards among their fleets, Honda held onto its gold with 57 percent over 2014’s 51 percent, while Volvo jumped from having no models in compliance to 29 percent. Mercedes took home the bronze by increasing fleet compliance to 18 percent of its models, compared to 12 percent last year.

On the other end, the CFA found a few automakers lost their footing in compliance, with Kia and Subaru making the biggest drops (18 percent and 48 percent respectively in 2015, 40 percent and 75 percent in 2014), and General Motors falling eight percentage points to 19 percent.

The group notes this is due to a boom in new truck and SUV sales, which made up half of all new-vehicle sales for the 2015 model year. Overall compliance remained stable (53 percent this year compared to 58 percent last year), while compliance rates among trucks and SUVs fell from 80 percent to 35 percent.

Despite the few stumbling blocks, CFA’s automotive expert, Jack Gillis, says the industry can achieve the 2025 CAFE target, a standards representing “a historic consensus that brought together automakers, labor unions, consumer organizations and environmental groups to benefit our national and economic security, the environment and consumers through reduced fuel consumption and more vehicle choices.”

[Image credit: WhiteHouse.gov]

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Renault Kwid Unveiled, Ready To Battle Maruti Suzuki Alto In India http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-kwid-unveiled-ready-to-battle-maruti-suzuki-alto-in-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-kwid-unveiled-ready-to-battle-maruti-suzuki-alto-in-india/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071530 As the Datsun brand stumbles in India, Renault-Nissan unveiled the Kwid Wednesday to take on the challenge of beating the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Alto. The Kwid hatchback is underpinned by the alliance’s Common Modular A Family platform, boasts a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, and has a starting price of ₹3,00,000 ($4,700 USD), Automotive News […]

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Renault Kwid 01

As the Datsun brand stumbles in India, Renault-Nissan unveiled the Kwid Wednesday to take on the challenge of beating the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Alto.

The Kwid hatchback is underpinned by the alliance’s Common Modular A Family platform, boasts a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, and has a starting price of ₹3,00,000 ($4,700 USD), Automotive News Europe reports. Power is set to come from an 800cc unit, though no other powertrain information was announced at this time.

Like the Tata GenX Nano announced Tuesday, the Kwid has a feature set normally found on more upscale vehicles for the Indian market, including hands-free voice-calling with Bluetooth, 7-inch touchscreen display with navigation and infotainment, and optional airbags.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the Indian market was not an easy one during the Kwid’s unveiling in Chennai, and expects the city car to be “a game changer for Renault India.” The alliance’s current attempt to crack the market — the Datsun Go — sold 16,000 units since its introduction in 2014. The Alto manages to sell over 16,000 units per month in comparison at a starting price of ₹2,46,163 ($3,865).

Renault India also plans to expand its dealership network from 157 to 280 by the end of next year, though the target still pales to Maruti’s 1,500 stores.

The Renault Kwid is expected in those showrooms in September upon leaving the assembly line in Chennai.

[Image credit: Renault]

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Luxury Automakers Wary Around Growing Female Consumer Base http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/luxury-automakers-wary-around-growing-female-consumer-base/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 19:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070938 Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares. While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their […]

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McLaren MP4-12C Circa January 2012

Those dealing in luxury vehicles and high-performance exotics may need to improve their relations with women soon, as more women seek such wares.

While less than 10 percent of Lamborghini and Ferrari owners in the United States are women, and Porsche only boasts 25 percent, female consumers in emerging markets like China are flexing their wealth with the automakers’ models in significant numbers, Reuters reports. The overall female consumer base is expanding, as well, fueled by increasing wealth as more and more women enter into greater positions of power.

However, marketing leaves a lot to be desired, especially as some automakers are wary of appealing to the new consumer base. Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann explains:

It’s like with an engineering degree which attracts more men than women, that’s just how it is. Males are more into the car business and the super sportscar is the pinnacle of that business.

On the other side, automotive consultant Belinda Parmar says high-end and exotic manufacturers should consider women drivers when designing vehicles. Her work with Aston Martin on its planned crossover is slated to have a higher sitting position and smaller steering wheel, allowing those wearing skirts to enter and exit without having to worry about feeling “silly” about the matter.

[Photo credit: Axion23/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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Tata GenX Nano Latest In Low-Cost Line Of Nano City Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tata-genx-nano-latest-in-low-cost-line-of-nano-city-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tata-genx-nano-latest-in-low-cost-line-of-nano-city-cars/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 16:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070802 Hitting showrooms Tuesday, Tata Motors announced its latest variant of the Nano city car: the GenX Nano. Starting price for the four-passenger GenX ranges between Rs1.99 lakh ($3,000 USD) for the XE trim, to Rs2.89 lakh ($4,535) for the XTA model. Power comes from a 624cc two-cylinder with multi-point injection, and is good for around […]

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genex-nano-1-large

Hitting showrooms Tuesday, Tata Motors announced its latest variant of the Nano city car: the GenX Nano.

Starting price for the four-passenger GenX ranges between Rs1.99 lakh ($3,000 USD) for the XE trim, to Rs2.89 lakh ($4,535) for the XTA model. Power comes from a 624cc two-cylinder with multi-point injection, and is good for around 38 horses and 38 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed manual and a five-speed “Easy Shift” automated manual route the power to the back, with the latter providing enhanced acceleration and traffic-friendly features.

Other features available include: smoked headlamps; 24-liter fuel tank for longer trips; electric power steering; 110 liters of luggage room; connected-vehicle system with Bluetooth, CD and USB/AUX ports; “SUV-like ground clearance”; and structural safety enhancements.

The GenX Nano will be on sale at all 450 Tata showrooms Tuesday, with the XE, XM, XT and XTA models available immediately; the XMA trim will arrive made-to-order beginning in August. Its competitors include the Hyundai Eon and Suzuki Alto.

[Photo credit: Tata]

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The Sixth Chevrolet Camaro Is Here – This Is What The Fifth-Gen Model Achieved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sixth-chevrolet-camaro-fifth-gen-model-achieved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sixth-chevrolet-camaro-fifth-gen-model-achieved/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070034 While by no means the overwhelming success that the first-generation Ford Mustang was back in 1966 – 417,000 were sold in that car’s first twelve months on the market, according to Ford MoCo – the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro was a hit by most any other standard. Now that the sixth-generation Camaro has debuted with surprisingly […]

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2016 Chevrolet Camaro SS

While by no means the overwhelming success that the first-generation Ford Mustang was back in 1966 – 417,000 were sold in that car’s first twelve months on the market, according to Ford MoCo – the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro was a hit by most any other standard.

Now that the sixth-generation Camaro has debuted with surprisingly similar styling to the outgoing model, it’s worth our while to look back at nearly seven years of Camaro sales to gauge the popularity of GM’s Mustang challenger. (Get it? Challenger?)

The main factor for Camaro fans involves the car’s ability to outsell the Mustang. True, the Camaro (and Mustang, for that matter) both put up the kinds of numbers many so-called mainstream cars can’t. But the more appealing measurement is the one which says that in each of the latest Camaro’s complete sales years, from 2010 forward, the Chevy has been the more popular car.

The Camaro outsold the Mustang in the United States by 7,583 units in 2010. In 2011, the fifth-gen Camaro’s best sales year, it outsold the Mustang by 17,811 units. In 2012, the gap decreased to just 1,396 units, but it was still in GM’s favour. In 2013, the Camaro finished 3,381 sales ahead of the Ford. In 2014, as Mustang sales surged in the final two months of the year, Camaro volume jumped 7% to finish the year 3,662 sales ahead.

USA Chevrolet Camaro rivals sales chart 2009-2015

Naturally, early 2015 figures haven’t been nearly as kind to the Camaro. With a brand new Mustang for model year 2015 and the fifth-gen Camaro reaching the end of its term, the Mustang leads by 18,726 sales over the course of just four months. In fact, even the Dodge Challenger outsold the Camaro in the month of March.

(Challenger sales, as an aside, have always increased despite being significantly lower on an annual basis than the Camaro and Mustang. Reintroduced in 2008, Challenger volume doubled between 2009 and 2014 thanks to persistent U.S. sales growth.)

The Mustang and Camaro are not as consistent in their growth patterns, although the Chevrolet has managed to hover above the 80,000-unit annual sales mark ever since 2010. An average of 84,160 are sold per year in the United States. 2014’s 86,297-unit result was the second-best for the fifth-gen car.

Camaro 2015 2016

Maintaining a relatively even keel, even in an industry which expanded every year since the car was brought back from the dead, is a notable achievement for a sporting coupe. Consider vehicles like the Nissan 370Z, which saw its sales plunge 45% between 2009, when the industry was in the doldrums, and 2014, when more than 16 million new vehicles were sold. There’s no surprise in seeing Scion FR-S sales tumble 23% in its second full year of availability or fall 29% through the first third of 2015, just three years removed from its launch.

In their home market, Detroit muscle experiences sustained interest in a way conventional “sports cars” do not.

Any number of issues could crop up to bring the sixth-gen Camaro down a rung or two, from a pricing strategy gone awry to an unanticipated economic crisis to aggressive new competition. What can be seen now, however, is a car that doesn’t look so dramatically different from the last Camaro.

Porsche 911s are evolutionary. Since 2004, revamped Ford Mustangs don’t appear wholly removed from the former models, either. Historically speaking, new Camaros share cues with their predecessors, rather than a striking overall resemblance. Then again, perhaps the distinct resemblance between old and new Camaro will do more good than harm. It works for the Honda Accord.

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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Consumer Reports Declares Tesla Model S P85D ‘Undrivable’ Due To Glitch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/consumer-reports-declares-tesla-model-s-p85d-undrivable-due-to-glitch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/consumer-reports-declares-tesla-model-s-p85d-undrivable-due-to-glitch/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 17:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070146 The thrill has gone for Consumer Reports‘ review team over the Tesla Model S, declaring the P85D “undrivable” in a new blog post. The publication said its tester was described as such due to issues with the automatic door handles, The Detroit Bureau writes. The handles were supposed to extend when someone with the vehicle’s […]

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Tesla Model S In Hero Blue

The thrill has gone for Consumer Reports‘ review team over the Tesla Model S, declaring the P85D “undrivable” in a new blog post.

The publication said its tester was described as such due to issues with the automatic door handles, The Detroit Bureau writes. The handles were supposed to extend when someone with the vehicle’s keys walked up to the car, failing to do so with the model in review.

With repeated attempts to enter the car in the traditional manner failing, one of the reviewers opened the front passenger door with a smartphone app to fire-up the EV. The success was short-lived, however, as the onboard electronics limited driving time to two minutes before shutting down.

Ultimately, CR called up customer service — which continues to receive high praise according to the publication’s reviewers — to haul the ailing P85D to the dealership for repairs. Despite the woes suffered prior to rectification, though, the publication continues to give the Model S a strong recommendation to its readership.

[Image credit: Tesla]

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Mercedes-Benz’s AMG GT Downmarket Foray Is Already Paying Off http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mercedes-benzs-amg-gt-downmarket-foray-already-paying-off/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mercedes-benzs-amg-gt-downmarket-foray-already-paying-off/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 15:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069250 Mercedes-Benz keeps moving their high-end sports cars down market just as the company keeps making their high-end sports cars more attractive. The SLR McLaren was absurd in more ways than one, and it took a couple of vehicular lifetimes for Mercedes-Benz to rid themselves of all the copies they built. The SLS AMG, on the […]

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Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014

Mercedes-Benz keeps moving their high-end sports cars down market just as the company keeps making their high-end sports cars more attractive. The SLR McLaren was absurd in more ways than one, and it took a couple of vehicular lifetimes for Mercedes-Benz to rid themselves of all the copies they built.

The SLS AMG, on the other hand, was a bold yet tasteful maneuver into a more reasonable supercar sector, where prices are closer to $200K than $400K, and if by reasonable we mean the domain of Ferraris with eight, rather than twelve, cylinders.

The new AMG GT, on the other hand, has an advertised base price of $129,900, just ten grand more than the new S-Class Coupe and some $21,000 below the price of a Porsche 911 Turbo. Two different AMG variants of Mercedes-Benz’s own SL-Class have significantly more costly points of entry.

Not surprisingly, then, Mercedes-Benz sold more copies of the AMG GT in its first month on sale in the United States than the SLS AMG ever managed at any point in its tenure.

Mercedes-Benz USA reported the company’s first 205 AMG GT sales in April 2015, a figure only vaguely approached by the SLS AMG in its first month on sale. Initial demand for this kind of car is a significant factor to consider. The fact Mercedes-Benz sold more than 200 AMG GTs in April doesn’t mean that, like the Porsche 911 with its immense staying power, the AMG GT can continue to attract a couple hundred well-off new owners per month. The SLS AMG, for instance, even in its second-best month of March 2012, was down 27% compared with its first month of availability, May 2010.

Mercedes-AMG GT (C 190) 2014

Since that month five years ago, Mercedes-Benz USA has sold 2,724 SLS AMGs, far more than the number of overpriced SLR McLarens (713) sold between 2004 and 2010.

As for other high-end sporting cars, Audi sold 69 R8s in April, a 14% year-over-year drop. BMW i8 volume, which peaked in its second full month of October 2014 at 204 units, stood at 138 units in April 2015. Dodge sold 56 Vipers, a 42% decline compared with April 2014. Nissan GT-R sales rose 32% to 162 units.

Mercedes-Benz’s own SL-Class was down 24% to 434. Figures for the S-Class Coupe are rolled into the overall S-Class’s total, sedan included, of 2,021 April sales. Its CL-Class predecessor averaged 57 monthly sales in the U.S. between 2010 and 2014, but CL volume has declined every year since 2008.

004-2014-porsche-911-turbo

Porsche’s wide-ranging 911 lineup was down 7% to 897 units in the best-ever month for the Porsche brand in America.

With the AMG GT and the aforementioned i8, Mercedes-Benz and BMW certainly have the vehicles with which the fight can be taken to the Porsche 911 in a new, exciting format. Challenging the iconic Porsche on volume terms, however, outside the venue of a car magazine comparison test, is a different can of worms. With an exhaustive array of body styles and engines and extremes and its legendary status, the 911 is king, no matter how far Mercedes-Benz moves its supercar downmarket.

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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This Is What Porsche Sold To Set A U.S. Sales Record In April 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/porsche-sold-set-u-s-sales-record-april-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/porsche-sold-set-u-s-sales-record-april-2015/#comments Sat, 16 May 2015 15:38:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069050 Porsche broke its five-month-old U.S. sales record in April 2015 to the tune of an additional 518 vehicles. Despite decreased car volume – five nameplates combined for a 15% passenger car loss, year-over-year – the Macan recorded its third month above 1000 units and set a record in its 12-month tenure with 1537 sales. Porsche’s […]

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Porsche USA sales chart

Porsche broke its five-month-old U.S. sales record in April 2015 to the tune of an additional 518 vehicles.

Despite decreased car volume – five nameplates combined for a 15% passenger car loss, year-over-year – the Macan recorded its third month above 1000 units and set a record in its 12-month tenure with 1537 sales.

Porsche’s best seller, meanwhile, continues to be the Cayenne. Its 4% decrease, a modest 66-unit decline, was more than overcome by the Macan’s surge.

Porsche generated 0.36% of the U.S. auto industry’s April 2015 volume, up from 0.29% in April 2014.

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

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FCA US Keeping Key Facilities Open Through Summer To Meet Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-keeping-key-facilities-open-through-summer-to-meet-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fca-us-keeping-key-facilities-open-through-summer-to-meet-demand/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 17:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1069186 Looking to make as many vehicles as possible, FCA US is foregoing its two-week summer shutdown at a number of the automaker’s facilities. The following list of FCA US properties to remain in operation this summer includes four assembly plants, all engine manufacturing locales, and one transmission factory, Detroit Free Press reports: Jefferson North Assembly […]

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2015 Chrysler 300C Platinum and 300S

Looking to make as many vehicles as possible, FCA US is foregoing its two-week summer shutdown at a number of the automaker’s facilities.

The following list of FCA US properties to remain in operation this summer includes four assembly plants, all engine manufacturing locales, and one transmission factory, Detroit Free Press reports:

  • Jefferson North Assembly Plant; Detroit
  • Saltillo Van Assembly; Saltillo, Mexico
  • Toledo Assembly Complex; Toledo
  • Toluca Assembly; Toluca, Mexico
  • Kokomo Casting; Kokomo, Indiana
  • Kokomo Transmission; Kokomo, Indiana
  • Dundee Engine Plant; Dundee
  • Mack Avenue Engine; Detroit
  • Saltillo Engine; Saltillo, Mexico
  • Saltillo South Engine; Saltillo Mexico
  • Trenton Engine Complex; Trenton

Three other transmission factories in Kokomo and Tipton, Ind. will shut down for one week instead of two, while FCA US’ stamping plants will operate on the same schedules as the assembly plants they serve.

The break from the traditional two-week shutdown — meant for equipment repairs and changes to the assembly line for the upcoming model year — comes as the automaker continues its streak of rising sales on a year-over-year basis, currently standing at 61 months. The overall U.S. industry is set to sell 17 million units this year, a peak not seen since prior to the start of the Great Recession.

[Photo credit: Chrysler/Facebook]

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Hyundai Group Riding High Amid Russian Economic Maelstrom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/hyundai-group-riding-high-amid-russian-economic-maelstrom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/hyundai-group-riding-high-amid-russian-economic-maelstrom/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 17:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068554 As Russia continues to struggle with its economic health, Hyundai Group is doing its part to keep the nation’s auto sales afloat. According to a representative, “Russia is one of the major and important markets for Hyundai (Group),” Ward’s Auto reports. The group’s Hyundai and Kia brands hold a combined 19.9 percent of the nation’s […]

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2016 Rio  SX

As Russia continues to struggle with its economic health, Hyundai Group is doing its part to keep the nation’s auto sales afloat.

According to a representative, “Russia is one of the major and important markets for Hyundai (Group),” Ward’s Auto reports. The group’s Hyundai and Kia brands hold a combined 19.9 percent of the nation’s automotive market in Q1 2015, with Hyundai holding 10.4 percent and Kia 9.5 percent.

Despite the maelstrom sweeping through the market, Hyundai Group has managed to fare well against the economic storm compared to other automakers. Analysts and industry-watchers suggest this is due to factors such as proper product placement, a beneficial global strategy, and its ability to play the game driving Russia’s auto industry.

The group also took home the gold in deliveries over the recent quarter, moving a combined 75,871 vehicles out of the showroom. Local automaker AvtoVAZ pulled up in second with 68,554 in the same period, while Renault-Nissan took bronze with 65,657 combined deliveries. Meanwhile, BMW is reconsidering plans to build a factory in Russia, and General Motors is shutting down local production and withdrawing its Chevrolet and Opel brands from the market.

Within the group, the Kia Rio has done wonders for the bottom line, especially for the Kia brand. Produced locally at the Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Russia facility in St. Petersburg, the Rio accounted for 44 percent of overall production — 104,700 units — and 48 percent of all the brand’s sales in the market during 2014.

Though the country’s economic woes are expected to worsen in 2015, a Kia representative says market share for the brand is likely to continue trending upward, having gone from 7.1 percent in 2013 to 7.9 percent last year; current projections through February 2015 point to a 9.8-percent share by the end of the year. Hyundai remains mum on yearly forecasts, but believes it will continue to fare well, also, thanks in part to government incentives for both consumers and the industry as a whole.

[Photo credit: Kia]

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Ellinghaus: Original Cadillac ELR Price Of Admission ‘A Mouthful’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/ellinghaus-original-cadillac-elr-price-of-admission-a-mouthful/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/ellinghaus-original-cadillac-elr-price-of-admission-a-mouthful/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 14:01:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1068474 In part due to its Chevrolet roots, the Cadillac ELR is now selling for up to 35 percent less than its original $76,000 price tag. Out of all of the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles selling below MSRP due to lower fuel prices at the pump, the current ELR has seen the largest discount from […]

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2016-Cadillac-ELR-005

In part due to its Chevrolet roots, the Cadillac ELR is now selling for up to 35 percent less than its original $76,000 price tag.

Out of all of the electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles selling below MSRP due to lower fuel prices at the pump, the current ELR has seen the largest discount from the original sticker, Bloomberg reports. Nearly 2,000 units have left the showroom over the past 18 months, with some dealerships going as low as $50,000 to make room for a model that will actually leave in a few days (i.e. the Escalade).

Cadillac originally established the high price of admission for its Tesla fighter because of the standard features it offered, despite its PHEV technology coming from the $35,000 Chevrolet Volt. Thus, the brand “overestimated” its customers would discover its competitors “were naked at that price,” according to marketing boss Uwe Ellinghaus.

Another justification was if the ELR were priced closely above the Volt, PHEV shoppers would have gone for the latter instead. Branding also played a role in the pricing, intending to signal to consumers the ELR was a Cadillac through and through, from its badging and design, to the olive wood trim and 10-speaker Bose audio system.

Though these failures have guaranteed the PHEV will not see a second generation, the 2016 edition will at least begin the model’s ride into the sunset on a more even keel. Pricing is set to begin at $66,000 before federal incentives, while power will increase to 233 horsepower and 373 lb-ft of torque from the current edition’s 217 horses and 295 lb-ft of torque.

[Photo credit: Cadillac]

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MKC Aside, Lincoln Sales Keep Tumbling As The U.S. Auto Market Expands http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mkc-aside-lincoln-sales-keep-tumbling-u-s-auto-market-expands/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mkc-aside-lincoln-sales-keep-tumbling-u-s-auto-market-expands/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1067194 This whole Lincoln revival thing is going to be a long process of thorough product replacement if recent U.S. sales figures are anything to go by. And they are. While brand-wide Lincoln sales jumped 20% in April 2015, those gains were created almost entirely by the MKC, a vehicle which wasn’t on sale at this […]

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The rear is the MKZ's best angle

This whole Lincoln revival thing is going to be a long process of thorough product replacement if recent U.S. sales figures are anything to go by. And they are.

While brand-wide Lincoln sales jumped 20% in April 2015, those gains were created almost entirely by the MKC, a vehicle which wasn’t on sale at this time a year ago. The Navigator, recently refreshed, helped out with an additional 245 sales compared with April 2014.

But the Lincoln brand, as it existed at this time a year ago with five models, was down 8% in April.

With a new MKX arriving soon, steadily increasing Navigator sales, and the MKC hovering around 1,900 monthly sales, is it possible that Lincoln could become America’s Acura? Remember Acura, the automaker which made its name on cars like the Integra but now relies on crossovers for nearly two-thirds of its U.S. volume?

Lincoln sales chart TTACLincoln, even with a second-gen MKZ that’s only been around for two years, saw its car sales tumble 22% in the first one-third of 2015. In fact, the MKZ’s year-to-date losses are more severe than the decreases put on the board by the nearly eight-year-old Taurus-based MKS. MKZ sales are down 23% this year, a loss of 2,851 sales. MKS volume is down 17%, a loss of 544 units. Lincoln car sales slid 7% to just 3,564 units in April, equal to 44% of Lincoln brand sales. The Fusion-based MKZ continues to be the best-selling Lincoln in the United States.

There are impediments to becoming an overwhelmingly SUV/crossover-oriented brand. The Navigator is on the upswing but it remains significantly less popular than, for example, the Cadillac Escalade. U.S. sales of the Escalade and Escalade ESV are triple what Lincoln achieves with the Navigator/Navigator L.

The MKT was never anything but a flop, and following last year’s historically low output, MKT volume through the first four months of 2015 is down 26% compared with last year’s pace.

The new MKX has potential, but the nameplate has never previously topped the 40K annual sales mark. (Lexus sells more than 100,000 RXs per year. 2015 will likely be the sixth consecutive year in which Cadillac sells more than 50,000 SRXs.)

And as we’ve mentioned quite recently, the MKC appears to have maxed out. Inventory levels keeps rising. MKC sales do not.

MKCExterior3_rdax_646x396

The MKC is, however, masking the dreadful state of established Lincolns in the United States. Indeed, through the first four months of 2015, because the MKC is simply not proving to be very popular, it’s only barely masking the true state of affairs among Lincoln products that aren’t brand new.

Subtract the MKC from the equation – it wasn’t on sale during the first-third of 2014 – and Lincoln’s year-to-date volume is down 21% to just 22,516 units.

Excitement at Lincoln surrounds the New York Auto Show reveal of the Continental ConceptThat’s not a bad thing. But can Lincoln, which is not even remotely a global brand, sell a car with any frequency? New vehicle launch after new vehicle launch after new vehicle launch, Lincoln keeps offering vehicles that initially appear capable of capturing the U.S. consumer’s attention. And then, crickets.

Lincoln sales in the U.S. in 2014 rose to a six-year high. But 2014 volume was down 41% compared with 2003, a year in which Lincoln sold nearly as many cars (90,427) as they did total new vehicles (94,474) in 2014.

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

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China Automotive Exports Crashing Against Geopolitical, Currency Challenges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/china-automotive-exports-crashing-geopolitical-currency-challenges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/china-automotive-exports-crashing-geopolitical-currency-challenges/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 19:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065906 China may be a hotbed for automakers to bring in their latest and greatest, but exports of its automotive wares aren’t as hot these days. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a drop of 22 percent in exports of commercial and passenger vehicles during April, falling to 61,600 units shipped compared to the previous […]

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Landwind X9 Rally Trucklet

China may be a hotbed for automakers to bring in their latest and greatest, but exports of its automotive wares aren’t as hot these days.

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a drop of 22 percent in exports of commercial and passenger vehicles during April, falling to 61,600 units shipped compared to the previous month according to Bloomberg. The group also found a decline of 15 percent over the first four months of 2015, putting a significant ding on the nation’s goal of 860,000 units shipped elsewhere this year.

Causes of China’s export woes include geopolitical issues in Iraq, Russia and Ukraine, and currency challenges in Algeria and Argentina, per association deputy secretary-general Shi Jianhua, who sees no signs of improvement on the horizon.

The 2015 export target is a far cry from the nation’s peak of 1.06 million units in 2012, and is less than the 910,400 units sent overseas in 2014.

[Photo credit: Landwind]

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Subaru Sees US Production Boost Five Years Early Due To Rising Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/subaru-sees-us-production-boost-five-years-early-due-rising-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/subaru-sees-us-production-boost-five-years-early-due-rising-sales/#comments Mon, 11 May 2015 18:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1065874 Fuji Heavy Industries announced it would increase production at its Lafayette, Ind. plant as Subaru hits its North American sales target five years early. Fuji Heavy president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said last week Subaru would reach 600,000 units sold in the United States and Canada per year by the end of March 2016, a milestone originally […]

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2015 subaru wrx (9)

Fuji Heavy Industries announced it would increase production at its Lafayette, Ind. plant as Subaru hits its North American sales target five years early.

Fuji Heavy president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said last week Subaru would reach 600,000 units sold in the United States and Canada per year by the end of March 2016, a milestone originally set for 2021 Automotive News reports.

The U.S. market alone accounts for 62 percent of the automaker’s global sales, with Q1 2015 sales rising 12 percent to 128,900 units. Meanwhile, 570,000 units left for North American showrooms during FY 2014, surpassing a target of 540,000 models projected for the U.S. alone by the end of 2015. The current forecast points to 554,000 sold in the U.S. by next March.

Thus, Yoshinaga proclaimed production in Indiana would climb to 394,000 units annually by the end of 2016. Fuji Heavy originally planned to boost said production to 328,000 by the end of said period, then to 400,000 by the end of FY 2020.

The Indiana plant is set to assemble the next-gen Impreza, which will hit showrooms in 2016 upon the new modular Subaru Global Platform, and with direct injection for its boxer engine onboard.

[Photo credit: Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars]

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Shock, Horror: U.S. BMW X4 Sales Are Rising Higher http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/shock-horror-u-s-bmw-x4-sales-rising-higher/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/shock-horror-u-s-bmw-x4-sales-rising-higher/#comments Fri, 08 May 2015 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1063498 It’s only been on sale ten months. But those who hoped BMW wouldn’t be able to repeat the X6’s moderate levels of success will be disappointed to hear the BMW X4 just recorded its best U.S. sales month so far. 920 copies of the X4 were sold in April 2015, April’s total was 89% better […]

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2015 BMW X4

It’s only been on sale ten months. But those who hoped BMW wouldn’t be able to repeat the X6’s moderate levels of success will be disappointed to hear the BMW X4 just recorded its best U.S. sales month so far. 920 copies of the X4 were sold in April 2015,

April’s total was 89% better than the average monthly total from the first-quarter of this year. Moreover, April’s X4 U.S. sales total was 54% better than the total from the prior month, when the U.S. new vehicle market was 6% larger. Indeed, the X4’s April total of 920 units was 12% greater than the total achieved by BMW USA in December of last year, December being the month for luxury auto sales in America.

Just days after TTAC’s managing editor mentioned the rate at which Porsche Macans are flying out of showrooms – not that the Macan is the highest-volume vehicle by any means, not even among Porsches – the realization that X4 sales are rising higher makes a measure of sense. True, the X4 is not the shockingly effective all-arounder that the Macan is. But in 2015, as a general rule, auto consumers love SUVs (and the various spin-off names of the SUV class: crossovers, CUVs, utilities, tall wagons.) Added to that, auto consumers love luxury branded vehicles. Auto consumers also love BMWs; after all, BMW was America’s best-selling premium auto brand in 2014 and only trails Mercedes-Benz by a hair through the first-third of 2014.

2015 BMW X4 red

But the X4? Is it simply selling more often now than when it first originated because Americans love SUVs, especially luxury SUVs, and especially BMWs?

Like the X6 and the discontinued Acura ZDX, the X4 is a more costly, less flexible version of a more mainstream luxury utility vehicle. In the X6’s case, the donor vehicle was the X5. The ZDX was the second-gen MDX’s offspring. The X4 is a more costly, less flexible version of the BMW X3. And one might have naturally assumed that in stark contrast to the less-is-more formula that works for so many a special edition Porsche sports car, the less-style-equals-more-ugly conundrum of the X4 would see the BMW suffering the ZDX’s fate.

Yet nearly one year into its tenure, the BMW X4 is selling better than at any point in the model’s brief history.

And in April, the X4 sold 59% more frequently than the Acura ZDX did in its best-ever month.

 

2010 Acura ZDX

2010 Acura ZDX

Lovers of taste can be grateful, however, as the increasingly popular X4 is still really not all that popular. Only one out of every ten BMW SAV sales in April involved an X4. (Only one in five involved the more expensive X6.)

BMW’s more conventional X1, X3, and X5 combined for a 19% year-over-year loss in April and are down 25% year-to-date in an SUV/CUV market that was up 15% in April and 13% year-to-date. The addition of the X4 and improved X6 sales don’t alter the fact that BMW utility vehicle sales are still down this year: 6% in April; 17% year-to-date. More specifically, the X3’s decline (32% in April; 40% YTD) hasn’t been completely made up for by the X4, either. Meeting global demand for luxury SUVs isn’t an easy task at the moment, as the United States isn’t the only market with a hankering for vehicles like the X3, which is in short supply.

 

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 AMG Coupe

2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe

Regardless, with the X4’s moderate level of success, don’t be surprised if automakers delve deeper into this bizarre niche. Indeed, we’ve already seen that the next M-Class (to be called the GLE) will offer a so-called coupe version; an X6 fighter. Let’s just hope they find a way to make them all a little prettier.

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 Facebook.

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Arrival Of Buick Encore Twin Doesn’t Reduce Encore Demand – Encore Growth Continues Alongside Trax http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/arrival-buick-encore-twin-doesnt-reduce-encore-demand-encore-growth-continues-alongside-trax/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/arrival-buick-encore-twin-doesnt-reduce-encore-demand-encore-growth-continues-alongside-trax/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 12:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062226 U.S. sales of the Buick Encore have increased, on a year-over-year basis, in each of the last 16 months. That streak includes these last five months, a period in which a more affordable twin of the Encore, the Chevrolet Trax, has also been generating meaningful U.S. sales activity. Encore volume grew 31% in the five […]

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2015 Buick Encore

U.S. sales of the Buick Encore have increased, on a year-over-year basis, in each of the last 16 months. That streak includes these last five months, a period in which a more affordable twin of the Encore, the Chevrolet Trax, has also been generating meaningful U.S. sales activity.

Encore volume grew 31% in the five months preceding the Trax’s U.S. launch. Since the little Chevy’s arrival, not only has the Encore avoided a decline, the rate of its volume expansion has hardly slowed: Encore sales jumped 28% between the final month of 2014 and April 2015.

In fact, as General Motors attracted 7,477 sales with the less costly Trax in March and April, Buick reported the best month ever for the Encore in March and the second-best ever Encore performance in April, the latter being a slightly slower month for the overall auto industry.

5,650 Encore sales were reported by Buick in March; another 5,587 in April. Only once before – in March of last year – has Buick sold more than 5,000 Encores in a single month.

Encore Trax sales chartAs we reported back in March, the Encore, alone in its success at Buick, isn’t sufficiently powerful to overcome other losses at the brand. As Encore volume jumped 29% in April, for example, four other Buick nameplates combined for a 15% year-over-year decline. Encore included, Buick’s U.S. volume was still down 5% in April and 5% year-to-date. Even the Enclave, in a strong month for GM utilities and the Lambda platform (Traverse sales shot up 28%; Acadia sales jumped 40%), stumbled slightly with a 4% drop.

How strong a month? “April was GM’s best-ever month for crossover sales,” the company said in its release last Friday. Industry-wide utility vehicle sales were up 15% in April. GM’s nine crossover nameplates – Enclave, Encore, SRX, Equinox, Traverse, Trax, Acadia, Terrain, and the discontinued fleet-only Captiva Sport – increased their volume by 24% to 77,780 units, equal to 29% of the company’s total U.S. volume. (GM also sold 20,962 full-size SUVs.)

2015 Chevrolet Trax

The Trax and Encore aren’t a huge part of that production in the United States. Much talked about though the subcompact crossover segment continues to be, none of the contenders are huge volume generators. Yet. The group is expanding, and with the expansion of the group (Renegade, CX-3, HR-V, 500X), volume expands rapidly, as well. The Trax and Encore accounted for 12% of GM’s crossover volume in the automaker’s best-ever month for U.S. crossover sales. The Chevrolet Equinox, on the other hand, America’s second-best-selling utility vehicle last month, generated 37% of GM’s crossover volume thanks to a 42% YOY improvement. The Equinox’s GMC Terrain twin was only barely outsold by the Trax and Encore combined.

Including delivery fees, the Encore has a base price of $24,990. The Trax starts at $20,995. All-wheel-drive adds $1500 to the price in both cases.

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.

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Buick Regal Tops Among Those Traded-In After One Year Of Ownership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/buick-regal-tops-among-traded-one-year-ownership/#comments Wed, 06 May 2015 19:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1062954 In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership. Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes […]

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2014 Buick Regal GS AWD Exterior-003

In a hurry to trade your new Buick Regal for something else? You’re not alone, as the sedan joins a handful of models traded-in after a year of ownership.

Per a report by iSeeCars.com, 2.7 percent of vehicles bought new end up on the used lot after being on the road for one year, Forbes reports, with trade-in rates as high as 11 percent for a specific model.

The models brought back to the sales lot run the gamut, from $18,000 subcompacts to $45,000 luxury sedans. The Regal tops the list with 10.7 percent of owners exchanging their keys after a year, the Chevrolet Sonic takes second with 8.9 percent, and the BMW X1 at a close third with 7.8 percent. The Dodge Charger, Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan, Chevrolet Cruze and Nissan Frontier also make the list.

As for why the sudden change of heart, quality or the perception of quality played a key role; the aforementioned models were rated poorly by owners surveyed in J.D. Power’s 2014 U.S. Initial Quality Survey. ISeeCars.com CEO Phong Ly says those issues usually involve technology, such as connected-vehicle systems, voice command, and Bluetooth connection, and aren’t so much “problems” as they are difficulties with said technologies.

Those looking for a deal on those models will likely be happy with what they find on the used lot, though. The 2014 Regal with average mileage comes with a price tag 32.2 percent less than new, while the C-Class and Charger lost 31.0 percent and 28.4 percent in new-car value after a year, respectively.

[Photo credit: Alex L. Dykes/The Truth About Cars]

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