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. Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:11:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/new-cars/ Fuel Prices Leave Efficient, Greener Offerings On The Lot http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fuel-prices-leave-efficient-greener-offerings-lot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/fuel-prices-leave-efficient-greener-offerings-lot/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934794 Falling fuel prices are helping to drive sales of SUVs and trucks as of late, but at the expense of more efficient, greener offerings. Automotive News reports dealers flush with fuel efficient and alternative fuel models are dropping truck-month style incentives on the hood to help move them off the lot. KBB.com notes that the […]

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Falling fuel prices are helping to drive sales of SUVs and trucks as of late, but at the expense of more efficient, greener offerings.

Automotive News reports dealers flush with fuel efficient and alternative fuel models are dropping truck-month style incentives on the hood to help move them off the lot. KBB.com notes that the Toyota Prius and Ford C-Max alone have seen increased incentives, with the latter jumping from $2,650 last September, to $4,900 this past September.

Meanwhile, strengthening fuel efficiency targets may lead to automakers producing vehicles that, according to Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Eric Ibarra, “consumers don’t want to buy” should gasoline and diesel prices remain low. Per forecasts by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the decrease in fuel costs will remain in play for at least another year, thanks to the oil boom in places like Alberta and North Dakota.

That said, dealerships aren’t too worried yet, believing consumers are ever-vigilant toward price spikes. Until then, SUVs and pickups will dominate the highways for another day.

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September 2014 Sales: $85K Viper Sells Like It’s March 2008 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/september-2014-sales-85k-viper-sells-like-march-2008/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934234 This is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?” The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow? Over the span of a few […]

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2015 Dodge Viper SRTThis is what you read two months ago on TTAC: “FCA won’t build this car forever if it remains unwanted. Long live the Alfa Romeo 4C?”

The mission for the Viper team then became, how do we make it desirable? Better yet, how do we make it desirable tomorrow?

Over the span of a few days or weeks, the Chrysler Group wasn’t going to inject a barrel full of cash into R&D for a new Viper, perform stress tests, crash tests, performance tests, complete styling mock-ups, consult the Viper-owning faithful, and begin delivering cars to dealers.

But they could drop the price by $15,000, creating a base MSRP of $84,995. Suddenly for September, the Viper was priced like it was two decades ago, adjusted for inflation.

Suddenly, U.S. sales rose to the highest level the Viper has seen since January 2009, when 127 were sold, a follow-up to the Viper’s 152-unit December 2008 performance.

The Viper topped 100 units on six occasions in calendar year 2008: in March, April, May, August, and December.

One month does not offer enough evidence for a thorough sales analysis, but the turnaround is still too distinct to ignore. August sales had fallen to the second-lowest total since the latest Viper arrived early last year. The summer season generated just 158 sales between June and August, a 21% year-over-year drop from the 200 sold during the same season one year earlier.

Can the now $85K Viper maintain this heady level of output? Assuming Dodge/SRT sell another 324 more in the fourth-quarter of 2014, the Viper will have enjoyed its best sales year since 2008, although the total in that assumed case (870 units) would be down 26% from ‘08 levels, when 1172 were sold.

Keep in mind, 2008, when sales jumped 169% year-over-year, was not an especially good time for the Viper. 1511 Vipers were sold in 2002, 2103 in 2003, 1782 in 2004, 1652 in 2005, and 1455 in 2006.

Nevertheless, the year-over-year growth achieved by the Viper in September 2014 is notable. Volume shot up 140%, a gain of 63 units. Automotive News reports that Dodge will begin building Vipers again in mid-November after the price cut began moving substantial portions of dealer inventory. By that time, Viper production will have been idled for more than one-third of 2014.

With Viper numbers ascending, we can’t ignore the upward movement from two other sports cars. Nissan GT-R sales more than doubled to a Viper-besting 159 units, a gain of 83 sales compared with September 2013. GM, meanwhile, sold 2467 Corvettes in September alone, a 197% year-over-year increase, equal to 1636 units.

Only four other passenger cars produced greater year-over-year gains than the Viper in September. Audi’s A3 (up 33,329%) wasn’t really on sale a year ago. The Mitsubishi Mirage (up 6600%) did not put a full month under its belt last September. Mercedes-Benz’s scarcely available B-Class EV was up 3150%. And the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (up 393%), with 1909 September sales, continued to teach every automaker a lesson in how to sell $94,400-$222,000 cars.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Dodge Viper Assembly To Resume Mid-November http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dodge-viper-assembly-resume-mid-november/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934754 After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you. Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount […]

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After months of idling, the Dodge Viper will once again roll out of the assembly line to a roped-off display near you.

Automotive News reports the Conner Avenue plant will start production of the supercar in mid-November after shutting down July 3. The move follows a sales increase in September, thanks to a $15,000 discount to help move unsold 2013 and 2014 stock, as well as an additional $15,000 off via a coupon given to over 1,000 customers that will remain good until January 2, 2018.

In the aforementioned month, 108 Vipers were dusted off and sent to a good home after buyers paid $86,880 for them, besting August 2014’s 38 and September 2013’s 45. Dodge chief Tim Kuniskis said October sales are also turning out to be strong, helping to bring inventory down to appropriate levels.

Speaking of inventory, dealers have ordered 200 2015 Vipers, which will only be assembled once more older stock heads out onto the highway. Once assembly starts, only the GT and base SRT trims will come down the line at first, with the more upscale TA and GTS trims following after inventory becomes reasonable.

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Georgia EV Supporters Prepare To Defend State Credit In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934722 EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year. According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is […]

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EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year.

According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is due to the state’s credit of up to $5,000 on EVs, helping to take off $12,500 from the bottom line when the $7,500 federal credit is taken into account.

Were the state credit have been cut, EV sales would fall dramatically. EV Club of the South board member Michael Beinenson says the credit — and not wanting to feel like Ed Begley Jr. — is the main draw for consumers in Georgia. He also hopes that the credit’s terms are merely changed instead of the entire credit being guillotined when the state’s legislature meets again next year, and is preparing to defend it to the bitter end with other like-minded supporters.

The credit was set to be removed from the books in 2014, citing lost revenue in the millions of dollars as the reason; the bill that would have made it so died hours before the 2014 session drew to a close.

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Tesla Direct Sales Ban Reinforced In Michigan, GM Supported Signing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-direct-sales-ban-reinforced-michigan-gm-supported-signing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/tesla-direct-sales-ban-reinforced-michigan-gm-supported-signing/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 10:00:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934698 It’s official: the ban preventing Tesla from directly selling its wares to customers in Michigan has been reinforced. Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed into law HB 5606, now known as Public Act 354 of 2014. The act not only prohibits automakers from telling their dealerships what fees the latter can charge customers, but reinforces a […]

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It’s official: the ban preventing Tesla from directly selling its wares to customers in Michigan has been reinforced.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder signed into law HB 5606, now known as Public Act 354 of 2014. The act not only prohibits automakers from telling their dealerships what fees the latter can charge customers, but reinforces a law already on the books:

This bill does not, as some have claimed, prevent auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers at retail in Michigan — because this is already prohibited under Michigan law.

Though Tesla can do little more than open a showroom and a repair shop for now, Snyder said lawmakers should “always be willing to re-examine” legislation with the aim of improving the consumer’s experience “in a more efficient and less costly manner.”

Meanwhile, at least one automaker is happy PA 354 is on the books. In a one-sentence press release, General Motors had this to say prior to the bill’s signing:

We believe that House Bill 5606 will help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan; therefore, we encourage Governor Snyder to sign it.

Per Jalopnik, GM sent a similar message to Ohio governor John Kasich back in March of this year regarding SB137, which would have allowed Tesla to directly sell to customers in the state; the bill later died in the Ohio Senate.

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American-Spec Honda HR-V Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/american-spec-honda-hr-v-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/american-spec-honda-hr-v-revealed/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:05:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934570 As we learned last week, Honda’s first SUV wasn’t a Honda at all. Caught flat-footed by the SUV boom, Honda took some desperate measures to get bring something to market that had an “H” on the grille. While the CR-V came out at exactly the right time, Honda waited nearly a decade after the Passport’s […]

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As we learned last week, Honda’s first SUV wasn’t a Honda at all. Caught flat-footed by the SUV boom, Honda took some desperate measures to get bring something to market that had an “H” on the grille.

While the CR-V came out at exactly the right time, Honda waited nearly a decade after the Passport’s launch to come up with a large SUV. This time, they’re a little quicker in responding to the next wave of the SUV boom – the subcompact crossover.

The HR-V, already revealed as the “Vezel” in world markets, will go head to head with the Nissan Juke and Chevrolet Trax. Next month will bring the HR-V’s debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, along with details on powertrain, equipment levels and maybe even pricing. Given the success of the CR-V and Pilot, it’s safe to assume that this will be a huge hit for Honda.

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Cadillac Dealers Prepare To Step Up, Or Leave, Sales Game Under De Nysschen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-dealers-prepare-step-leave-sales-game-de-nysschen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-dealers-prepare-step-leave-sales-game-de-nysschen/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934202 Facebook commenters and the automotive press aren’t the only ones feeling the lash from Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, as dealers themselves are feeling the pressure to step up their game. Automotive News reports that while some Cadillac dealerships have nothing to worry about, and are, in fact, completely on-board with de Nysschen’s alphanumeric global […]

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Facebook commenters and the automotive press aren’t the only ones feeling the lash from Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen, as dealers themselves are feeling the pressure to step up their game.

Automotive News reports that while some Cadillac dealerships have nothing to worry about, and are, in fact, completely on-board with de Nysschen’s alphanumeric global vision, those on the low end of the totem pole fear they may be selling something else if they can’t compete on the level their new boss expects of them.

Specifically, de Nysschen may want to consolidate the brand’s network of 924 dealerships into a more BMW/Mercedes-esque number — hovering in the 330 – 370 range — with a similar focus on urban markets. Though neither he nor anyone representing Cadillac have stated such plans were on the table, dealers like Claude Burns and an unnamed dealer in the Midwest are going on the offensive to maintain their spots: a new expanded floorplan for the former, lawyering-up with an attorney who represented dealers during General Motors’ bankruptcy for the latter.

As for the boss himself, de Nysschen had this to say about the future of his dealerships after his meeting with them last month in Las Vegas, where he outlined his vision for the brand and their role in it:

It’s very clear to me that many, many dealers already have risen to the challenge. On the other hand, when those customers engage us in our dealerships, we cannot afford that the experience is anything other than confirming that this is a first-class brand. And not all of our dealers are there.

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Los Angeles 2014: Honda HR-V, Acura ILX To Bow On The Red Carpet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-honda-hr-v-acura-ilx-bow-red-carpet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/los-angeles-2014-honda-hr-v-acura-ilx-bow-red-carpet/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 12:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934146 Coming soon to an automotive red carpet near you: Honda’s new HR-V and Acura’s 2016 ILX. The former, seen only in photos when announced in New York earlier this year, will be making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fit-based crossover is expected to serve “as the entry point […]

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Coming soon to an automotive red carpet near you: Honda’s new HR-V and Acura’s 2016 ILX.

The former, seen only in photos when announced in New York earlier this year, will be making its North American debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show. The Fit-based crossover is expected to serve “as the entry point to the Honda light truck lineup,” consisting of the Ridgeline, Pilot and CR-V. The HR-V will take the stage sometime after 12:30 p.m. Pacific November 19.

Over at Acura, the Civic-based ILX will be debuting its new look for 2016, with the aim of firming up its appeal with customers in the entry-level premium market. The updates include a “more forceful, sporty exterior,” an unknown-yet-powerful powertrain, and new interior design. The sedan will roll up to the world’s stage at 9:30 a.m. Pacific November 20.

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Porsche 918 Hybrid Hypercar Nearly Sold Out http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/porsche-918-hybrid-hypercar-nearly-sold/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 10:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934098 Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out. Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold […]

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Saving your pennies for a Porsche 918 Spyder? You may want to go ahead and take out a loan to get the down payment on the table, for the hybrid hypercar is nearly sold out.

Automotive News reports production of the 918 will draw to a close in July 2015, while planned production is sold out through early April at the latest, according to Porsche Cars North America vice president of marketing, Andre Oosthuizen.

Regarding how many have been made thus far, Oosthuizen declined to say more than that it was doing well for itself. He added that 30 of the $847,945 spyders were delivered to customers around the world — each bestowing Porsche a deposit of $200,000 for the opportunity to own one — thus far.

 

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TTAC AMA: I Own A Pontiac G8 With A Holden Commodore Conversion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ttac-ama-pontiac-g8-holden-commodore-conversion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ttac-ama-pontiac-g8-holden-commodore-conversion/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933386 This week’s AMA comes courtesy of reader APaGttH, who has a Pontiac G8 GT that has been converted into a Holden Commodore replica. Read on below to hear the story. Seeing the handwriting on the wall for Pontiac, and after my one week experience with a 2008 V6 rental, I purchased my Pontiac G8 GT in […]

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This week’s AMA comes courtesy of reader APaGttH, who has a Pontiac G8 GT that has been converted into a Holden Commodore replica. Read on below to hear the story.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall for Pontiac, and after my one week experience with a 2008 V6 rental, I purchased my Pontiac G8 GT in May of 2009. This is an early production 2009 GT, called a 9L1 car in G8 owner lingo, built in June of 2008. The car is White Hot (or Heron White if you’re not from North America) with the premium package, sport package, and sunroof. Just 60 days after purchase, the car got shelled by a gravel truck causing over $2000 in paint, headlamp and glass damage. It was only by coincidence and blind luck that the restomod work done produced a “2010” Holden Commodore SS V-Series Special Edition. The additional modifications, and eliminating a number of GM bean counter decisions continued from there. I have drag raced, auto crossed, and lapped in the G8 and found it a very competent platform, outside of being under braked. I pulled a 13.354 quarter mile at 105.85 MPH using a Cortex tuner only on stock rubber in very damp, cold conditions at Bremerton Motorsports Park in 2009. Currently I have 34K miles and although not my retirement plan, I have no intentions of selling the garage queen. Ask your questions!
Pontiac G8 GT at Uluaru 3 Pontiac G8 GT at Ulurau 2 Pontiac G8 GT at Ulurau Pontiac G8 GT brand new and before any modifications - June 2009 Pontiac G8 GT center stack with Holden triple gauges Pontiac G8 GT current state Pontiac G8 GT engine bay plaque in kW and Nm Pontiac G8 GT Holden SS dash cluster Pontiac G8 GT Infotainment screen modified to support Vehicle In Motion showing MP3 integration Pontiac G8 GT rear with Australian license plate Pontiac G8 GT with Holden converted interior LHD
 

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Exported To Detroit: Next Ford Focus RS Won’t Be Built In Michigan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/exported-detroit-next-ford-focus-rs-wont-built-michigan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/exported-detroit-next-ford-focus-rs-wont-built-michigan/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933714 Fans of fast Fords will be glad to know that our sources at the Blue Oval have confirmed that the Ford Focus RS is on its way for a 2016 debut. It will be (relatively) affordable, provide a measurable performance boost above a Focus ST, and it will be imported from Europe. According to our […]

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Fans of fast Fords will be glad to know that our sources at the Blue Oval have confirmed that the Ford Focus RS is on its way for a 2016 debut. It will be (relatively) affordable, provide a measurable performance boost above a Focus ST, and it will be imported from Europe.

According to our source, the 2.3L Focus RS will be equipped with all-wheel drive and be priced a couple of thousand dollars higher than a loaded Ford Focus ST3. But getting your hands on one will be tough.

The Focus RS will have to be imported from Europe, since it apparently won’t fit down the production line at the Michigan Assembly Plant that builds our Focus. This means a very limited run of cars, serving as a halo car for those who want something more rally-inspired than a Mustang.

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Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, Chrysler 300 SRT Get Stay Of Execution http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-chrysler-300-srt-get-stay-execution/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-chrysler-300-srt-get-stay-execution/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:27:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933858 Despite an effort to consolidate SRT vehicles under the Dodge brand, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will stick around for the immediate future. Automotive News is reporting that dealers can order an SRT version of the Grand Cherokee for the 2015 model year. Beyond that, the vehicle will likely be renamed the “Trackhawk”. And while […]

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Despite an effort to consolidate SRT vehicles under the Dodge brand, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will stick around for the immediate future.

Automotive News is reporting that dealers can order an SRT version of the Grand Cherokee for the 2015 model year. Beyond that, the vehicle will likely be renamed the “Trackhawk”.

And while the Chrysler 300 SRT is slated to be axed in North America, right-hand drive prototypes have been spied undergoing testing, suggesting the vehicle will live on for export markets. Australia is  SRT’s biggest global market outside the United States, and with the death of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon, the 300 SRT will be the last rear drive V8 muscle sedan available in Australia.

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Dwindling Cabriolet Market Affecting Automakers, Suppliers Alike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dwindling-cabriolet-market-affecting-automakers-suppliers-alike/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 10:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932282 If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike. Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following: Popularity: In the two […]

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If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike.

Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following:

  • Popularity: In the two biggest markets for such vehicles — North America and Europe — the convertible experienced sales of 827,000 unit in 2007, but only 444,000 in 2013. The drop is likely the result of consumers moving toward crossovers and SUVs, along with other image-making vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Tesla Model S.
  • Limited market: Even when popularity was at its peak, not everyone wanted the wind in their hair. Convertibles were most popular in places like England, Sweden, California and Florida — the latter two were the result of transplants from colder, wetter regions who now wanted to soak up the sun — while few were sold in places like Dubai, China and Singapore.
  • Other options: Consumers shopping for new vehicles can have theirs with a panoramic roof, delivering blue skies to all without needing to apply a ton of Aqua Net or toupee glue before heading out. Further, SUVs and cabriolets are image vehicles that can replace each other, though such a swap hurts the latter more than the former in the new-vehicle market. Finally, convertibles have a higher residual value, and tend to do better in the used-vehicle market than when first purchased.

Thus, as automakers trim their open-top offerings, suppliers like Valmet and Magna CTS fear their time may soon come to call it a day. CEO for the largest supplier of roof systems, Webasto’s Holger Engelmann, says the market won’t be able to sustain three major players in the supply game. Both Webasto and Valmet — the third largest; Magna CTS is No. 2 — have shuttered facilities over the years amid the shrinking market, with Valmet closing its German operations by 2017.

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Japanese Auto Makers Crack The Closed Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/japanese-auto-makers-crack-closed-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/japanese-auto-makers-crack-closed-market/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:25:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932073 While the eternal debate about whether Japan is or isn’t a closed market continues to rage onwards, the Nikkei reports that a new phenomenon is occurring in Japan: imported vehicles from domestic brands are starting to trickle in. Previously, only a very limited number of imported nameplates trickled into the Japanese market. The Ohio-built Honda […]

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While the eternal debate about whether Japan is or isn’t a closed market continues to rage onwards, the Nikkei reports that a new phenomenon is occurring in Japan: imported vehicles from domestic brands are starting to trickle in.

Previously, only a very limited number of imported nameplates trickled into the Japanese market. The Ohio-built Honda Accord Coupe was one of the most famous examples, with right-hand drive units sent back to Japan and marketed specifically as an American-built vehicle.

 

Even though the yen has weakened – a key factor in the decision to set up overseas manufacturing facilities – Japanese OEMs aren’t so eager to move production back home. As the Nikkei reports

In some cases, the economies of scale from building cars where they sell the most makes those vehicles more competitive than those produced domestically. So the automakers are moving to import these models to beef up their domestic lineups… ‘Each automaker has taken risks to conduct capital investment abroad, so it’s unlikely that the trend to manufacture locally will change as a result of exchange rates returning to earlier levels,’ says Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association Chairman Fumihiko Ike.

While models from lower cost locales like Spain, Hungary and Thailand will be brought to Japan, Honda will be bringing the Ohio-built Acura NSX over, albeit as a low volume halo car. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting twist of events, given that the Plaza Accord and voluntary export restrictions aren’t too distant a memory for many people.

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Dispatches Do Brasil: Salão do Automóvel de São Paulo (A Preview Of The Sao Paulo Auto Show) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dispatches-brasil-salao-automovel-de-sao-paulo-preview-sao-paulo-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/dispatches-brasil-salao-automovel-de-sao-paulo-preview-sao-paulo-auto-show/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 15:40:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932081 With an expected attendance of over 750,000 visitors, the biannual São Paulo Auto Salon opens its doors to the public on October 30th and will go on for 11 days. By far the largest of this kind of fair in Latin America, the organization of the show ambitions to turn it into one of the […]

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With an expected attendance of over 750,000 visitors, the biannual São Paulo Auto Salon opens its doors to the public on October 30th and will go on for 11 days. By far the largest of this kind of fair in Latin America, the organization of the show ambitions to turn it into one of the five largest in the world and make it the world’s premier compact car launch platform. In 2012, only with Brazilian tourists going to see the show in the city of São Paulo, that city grossed over R$250 million. This year, expectations are that tourism, and all other businesses involved, will make 30 percent more than they did at the last one.

Since we are still a couple of weeks away, here’s a quick overview of the confirmed and the speculated, based on nationality. Check back next week as we cover the big debuts in depth.

The Americans

The Chrysler group will surely be among those most visited. Spies have taken pictures of pre-production run, Brazilian-built Renegades, which are, frankly, generating strong interest. Depending on price, it should be a hit.  Jeep will also show its Cherokee and this will be the first time most of us will be able to lay our eyeballs in person on the thing. Challenger and Viper should be shown yet again, but mostly as attention getters as there are no official plans for them in Brazil.

GM will show the latest Corvette and this should garner interest. There are strong indications that they will finally get around to importing the thing (about time). A Camaro Z28 should also make the rounds. For the real world, a Spin minivan in “adventure” guise is rumored, including an a la Wrangler, back hatch-mounted spare.

Ford will also be busy showing imports. The new Edge, and the body-on-frame Everest SUV will be shown. Most importantly, the Mustang seems set to become Brazilian, the first time ever; Ford will import its wild pony, though only for 2016. Of course the new line will be shown, and the Ka should be of particular interest for Brazilians, though the new Focus shown elsewhere will be hidden as the three front triangles one has been here for less than a year.

The Chinese

If you fall down, try again. After relative success when they first arrived, the Chinese have been beaten down by government intervention, high depreciation, continued worries on quality, and mechanically (some) and dynamically (most) have been considered abject failures. Changing strategy, most makers will now focus on CUVs, ranging from compact to gigantic as their hatches and sedans have proved uncompetitive so far.

The French

…will be very busy. PSA should get a lot of visitors as they continue to spin off the DS sub-brand into its own brand. All models will be present and the most important launch is the DS 6WR, a midsize CUV-SUV-thing with turbo engines of up to 200 hp. Citroën will show off the Cactus, but to underscore that it will not be for us, the model shown is the show-circuit one. Peugeot meanwhile, has real news. For the first time in Brazil, it will exhibit its compact 2008 CUV, slated for Brazilian production and on sale by the middle of next year. To attract attention, besides the civilian version, the 37-inch wheeled, V6 biturbo motivated 2008 DKR that will compete in the 2015 Dakar Rally will be here. Another anticipated car is the Brazilian market 208 compact hatch in GT trim, an homage we can say to the European GTi as engines (1.6L, 165 hp) and number of doors (5 and not 3) will be different.

Renault has not confirmed the Duster pickup, but it should go on sale by midyear 2015 will be proudly shown off. If true, they will have a busy stand, because besides concepts, that will be the only launch. Beyond that possibility, both redesigned Fluence and Duster are confirmed. What has not been confirmed are exactly what changes are expected to the Duster. Some say only externally, and in the front it will be retouched. For Duster fans, the most important news will be if the inside finally follows the redesigned and much more inspired new Logan and Sandero interiors. Speaking of the hatch, the Stepway “adventure” version will make its debut and surely generate sales and visits for Renault.

The Italians

Alfa Romeo will again tug our hearts and show off their full line (what there is of it) in São Paulo. Rumors as to their return have been growing of late and a full line show can’t be a coincidence (can it?). The 4C will collect millions of flashes, from a distance, as Alfa Romeo is usually one of those who show but don’t allow touching.

Fiat has not officially denied or confirmed any new launches for the Salon. As the largest Brazilian maker, the new Uno should be enough to generate lines at the stand, but they always have a surprise or two up their sleeves. I wouldn’t call you crazy if you expect to see the 500L and even the 500X (also already in pre-production in the new factory) make an appearance. Besides, the female model selection is usually best in show.

The Germans

Audi will probably show coupe and convertible of the new, angular TT. Taking a page from China, the extra-long A8L is confirmed and, if Brazilian plutocrats demonstrate enough interest, could be imported.

BMW will show the electric line, i3 and i8, and surely talk in the backstage to authorities of the necessity of credit and financing to popularize such cars in this country. Besides those and the regular line, the homely X4 and Series 2 Active Tourer will be launched. Sort of German, but I will include it here; MINI will show off its also homely new line, including the 5-door hatch.

Mercedes Benz will show their regular line and the crazily-powerful, AMG-branded or not, vehicles launched in other international salons recently. In a good moment in Brazil, probably beating their über rivals in sales this year, some of their models will not be shown at their stand, but will rather rub shoulders with such luminaries and exotics as Rolls Royce, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche and others in the so-called “Super Cars’ Space”.

Volkswagen will have lots of attractions. In the Brazilian line, the adventure line of the demure up! will be presented, as will the SpaceFox, a sort of a cross between a minivan and station wagon. It will receive the changes the hatch it derives from (the Fox) has already received. The best news though is the Jetta. VW has confirmed local production for the new one (one less Mexican import), which will submit to the same re-skin the American Jetta suffered recently.

The Japanese

Honda will showcase its new HR-V or Vezel. Maybe they’ll even settle on a name… The car will use a 1.8 engine and aim at EcoSport and Duster. The Civic Si makes its glorious return. This time it will be imported only in coupe form, use a 2.4, and be sold for a modest R$115,000. The re-styled CR-V is also likely to show.

Nissan will show its re-styled Versa and March, both of which are already in production at their new Brazilian plant, which marks the first time Nissan is producing in its own factory here, as its Livina minivan is built by Renault at the French facility. To call even more attention, the re-tuned 553 hp, Nissan GT-R will grace the stand.

Called 86 here, the Toyota twin of the Toyota-Subaru collaboration will appear yet again. It was shown back in 2012, but nothing came about. This time around Toyota promises to import it. Showing mostly the regular line, it seems Toyota is focusing on Lexus.

Lexus will focus more on CUVs than sedans. After importing and failing to sell their sedans for lack of prestige and an excess of ambition (priced higher than the equivalent German suspects, much more known and oozing in prestige), might be that the bizarre NX could do the trick. I wouldn’t hold my breath though as things like Land Rover Evoque and Audi Q3 are firmly entrenched in the category and command much better brand recognition.

At least Lexus tries; Acura and Infiniti have given up the pretense and will be noticeable only by their absence.

The Koreans

…also known as Hyundai-Kia, seem not too interested. Hyundai promises to show its pseudo-German Genesis, while Kia neither acknowledges nor denies rumors that the K900 will appear for the first time in South America.

The others

Jaguar, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, Volvo, among others will all be here. In spite of showing only what has already been seen and launched elsewhere, they always attract a crowd as the Salon is a real opportunity for many a Brazilian to see these cars up close. Depending on attractiveness though, and if people are not too interested, some of these brands, sometimes, are known to throw caution in the wind and hide the ropes, letting the hordes actually open and close doors, mess with the switchgear and sit in the cars.

 

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Michigan May Ban Tesla Direct Sales Pending Governor’s Signature http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/michigan-may-ban-tesla-direct-sales-pending-governors-signature/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/michigan-may-ban-tesla-direct-sales-pending-governors-signature/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931978 Sitting on Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s desk is a bill that would add the state to the list of places where Tesla cannot sell its vehicles directly to the public, waiting for his pen to seal the deal. Automotive News reports Michigan H.B. 5606 was originally meant to determine whether or not automakers could stop […]

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Sitting on Michigan governor Rick Snyder’s desk is a bill that would add the state to the list of places where Tesla cannot sell its vehicles directly to the public, waiting for his pen to seal the deal.

Automotive News reports Michigan H.B. 5606 was originally meant to determine whether or not automakers could stop their dealership networks from charging consumers certain fees when it was introduced in May, only for the anti-Tesla language to be appended to the bill by the state senate prior to passage — and without notice or debate — during the first two days of October. The bill then returned to the state house, passing 106 to 1 before landing on Snyder’s desk.

On the third day, Tesla contacted the governor’s office to have “a very open and productive dialogue” with those in the Snyder administration, according to vice president of business development Diarmuid O’Connell. He added that the automaker had been watching the bill since its introduction, citing its experience with other bills where anti-Tesla language had been stealthily implemented.

Meanwhile, Michigan Automobile Dealers Association executive vice president Terry Burns applauded the bill, proclaiming that while Tesla are “more than welcome” to do business in Michigan, he would hope they do so based on state law:

One good thing about being governor, you get to do whatever you think is appropriate at the time. We hope and look forward to him signing the bill and clarifying the language, and we hope he does it soon.

As for when the governor would decide the fate of H.B. 5606, a representative said the bill was being evaluated, but nothing has been decided thus far. Snyder has until October 21 to sign.

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Revised Mazda2 Takes Home Japan COTY Award http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/revised-mazda2-takes-home-japan-coty-award/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/revised-mazda2-takes-home-japan-coty-award/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931434 The newly revised Mazda2 — Demio in its home market of Japan — won’t be in United States showrooms until sometime during the 2016 model year, but when it does arrive, it will be bringing along its first award: the 2014-2015 Car of the Year Japan, as presented by the Japan Car of the Year […]

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The newly revised Mazda2 — Demio in its home market of Japan — won’t be in United States showrooms until sometime during the 2016 model year, but when it does arrive, it will be bringing along its first award: the 2014-2015 Car of the Year Japan, as presented by the Japan Car of the Year Committee.

The fourth vehicle to adopt the automaker’s Kodo design language — after the CX-5, Mazda6 and Mazda3 — the Mazda2 took home the award just two years after the CX-5 did the same. The win is Mazda’s fifth overall.

All passenger vehicles announced or in production in Japan between November 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014, with over 500 units produced/planned for the home market, were eligible for this year’s award.

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Nissan Canada Launches One-Make Micra Cup Race Series http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-canada-launches-one-make-micra-cup-race-series/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nissan-canada-launches-one-make-micra-cup-race-series/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:36:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931514 The Nissan Micra has already staked itself out as the most affordable new car on sale in Canada, with a base price of just $9,998 CDN. And at $19,998, it’s also the cheapest race car in the country. Nissan and Quebec performance outfit JD Motorsports are launching the one-make Micra Cup, intended as a stepping […]

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The Nissan Micra has already staked itself out as the most affordable new car on sale in Canada, with a base price of just $9,998 CDN. And at $19,998, it’s also the cheapest race car in the country.

Nissan and Quebec performance outfit JD Motorsports are launching the one-make Micra Cup, intended as a stepping stone series to bridge the gap between karting and more costly forms of motorsports.

The Micra race cars will be based on the lowest trim level Micra S, and be sold as a turnkey package prepared for racing. Modifications include a NISMO suspension kit, better brake pads, alloy wheels and performance tires, a new exhaust and the requisite safety gear.

While the Micra Cup will be limited to Quebec initially, it may expand to other provinces in Canada (Quebec is currently the top market for the Micra). What we wouldn’t give to see it expanded to include our fantasy “Spec Mirage” class as well.

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China Auto Sales Slow To Lowest Rate Since February 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/china-auto-sales-slow-lowest-rate-since-february-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/china-auto-sales-slow-lowest-rate-since-february-2013/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931362 Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools. Bloomberg reports sales in September rose 2.5 percent to 1.98 million units compared to what they were in 2013, marking the lowest rise in sales since February of last year. While passenger-car sales climbed 6.4 percent […]

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Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools.

Bloomberg reports sales in September rose 2.5 percent to 1.98 million units compared to what they were in 2013, marking the lowest rise in sales since February of last year. While passenger-car sales climbed 6.4 percent to 1.7 million units, commercial-vehicle sales fell 16 percent.

Meanwhile, purchase restrictions and declines in other parts of the nation’s economy also contributed to the slowdown in sales. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers lowered its 2014 forecast of vehicle sales growth in July, bringing it down from 10 percent to 8.3 percent. Economists add that overall growth will slow to 7.3 percent in 2014 — the lowest rate since 1990 — and 7 percent for 2015.

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Datsun Dealing With Low Sales In Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931346 Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin. It’s not quite working out thus far. Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three […]

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Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin.

It’s not quite working out thus far.

Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three of the previous four months through this August, with only 607 units leaving the lot in July, briefly dipping below the sales rate of the Tata Nano in the same month. Further, from its debut in March through August, a total of 9,557 of the ₹312,270 ($5,100 USD) Gos found their way into Indian garages.

Meanwhile, Russian sales will take a hit thanks to the ongoing geopolitical Cold War retro revival delivering a two-pronged attack upon the market, with sanctions by Western states on one side, the spectre of recession along the other. According to IHS Automotive, sales may fall to a decade-low of 9 percent by the time 2015 rolls around.

Finally, Datsun has moved 6,400 Go+ Pancas thus far in FY 2014, with the goal set for 40,000 units sold by the end of March 2015. The brand recently began accepting orders for the Go hatch, while Nissan believes it can hit the mark within the year.

India may prove to be the toughest market for the upstart brand, as those interested in a new car would rather pay more than be seen in something considered “cheap.” That said, sales could pick up during the country’s festival season, which began last month and is set to end in November. Additionally, Datsun corporate vice president Vincent Cobee acknowledged that it would take a while for a new-car buyer to consider a new brand over an established one, even if they are paying $10,000 or less for the vehicle.

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Chart Of The Day: America’s Top Rental Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-americas-top-rental-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/chart-day-americas-top-rental-cars/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:57:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930946   Courtesy of the New York Times and Polk, a chart showing the top rental cars in 2013, as a percentage of overall sales. A big question mark overall is “what percentage of Impala sales (not just to fleets) are of the W-Body, fleet only, ‘Impala Limited'”? GM won’t break out their numbers from the […]

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Courtesy of the New York Times and Polk, a chart showing the top rental cars in 2013, as a percentage of overall sales.

A big question mark overall is “what percentage of Impala sales (not just to fleets) are of the W-Body, fleet only, ‘Impala Limited'”? GM won’t break out their numbers from the Epsilon II-based model that replaced it, but either way, at least half of the Impala’s volume (roughly 156,000 units were sold in 2013) went to rental fleets. The Impala and the Dodge Charger, two heavy hitters in the ever-shrinking full-size car segment, are well represented, along with the Chrysler minivans, the now defunct Dodge Avenger and GM’s full-size SUVs. Mazda also appears to be dumping volume into daily rental, with the Mazda2 and Mazda5 making an appearance.

Ranking ahead of the Impala was the Toyota Yaris. Even though nearly 60 percent of Yarisis (Yari?) go to rental fleets, Toyota just spent what must have been a huge sum of money flying journalists and their guest of choice to a week-long drive event in Hawaii to preview the new Yaris, as well as the Sienna and refreshed 2015 Camry. TTAC was not invited, but perhaps we can do two rental reviews, for less than the cost of one night’s stay on the Big Island.

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Acura May Follow Subaru With AWD-Only Product Plan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/acura-may-follow-subaru-awd-product-plan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/acura-may-follow-subaru-awd-product-plan/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 14:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930906 Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive. Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — […]

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Looking for a way to revitalize itself, Acura is considering taking a cue from Subaru by going all in on all-wheel drive.

Automotive News reports the plan is one of several backed by the brand’s Acura Business Planning Office — formed earlier this year to rethink and revitalize the brand in the United States — though nothing is set in stone thus far.

Acura boss Koichi Fukuo believes that AWD is the way to go, citing the brand’s need to offer “something different” compared to the competition. That said, premium brands like BMW and Audi already offer AWD, with 58 percent of BMWs and 90 percent of Audis so equipped.

As for taking influence from Subaru’s success with the platform, Fukuo wants to do for what he calls “Acurists” — the loyal customer base he aims to cultivate through the AWD plan — what the Pleiadian automaker has done for its “Subarists”:

Looking at Subaru, I felt that we have to have a strong, clear direction as a brand. What’s important is to have the technology, styling and performance to evolve all together. Otherwise, I don’t think we can increase the number of loyal customers, so-called Acurists.

At present, the TLX and the upcoming hybrid RLX will have the brand’s next-gen Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive system, the latter receiving the Sport Hybrid variant that will also move the second-gen NSX when the sports car leaves Ohio in 2015. The rest of the lineup will follow over the years as each model comes up for renewal and/or refreshing. Power for all will come more powerful engines, none of which will be V8s or V10s due to weight issues interfering with the performance of a given vehicle.

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9% Of Canadians Are Thankful For Their Civics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/9-canadians-thankful-civics/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/9-canadians-thankful-civics/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:55:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930338 Happy Canadian Thanksgiving. Around turkey-laden tables across the country today, Canadians will utter their thanks for family, cranberry sauce, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, warm socks, and Honda Civics. In each of the last 16 years – a streak which began in 1998 – the Civic has been Canada’s best-selling passenger car. If Honda Canada stopped selling […]

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2013 Honda Civic sedanHappy Canadian Thanksgiving. Around turkey-laden tables across the country today, Canadians will utter their thanks for family, cranberry sauce, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, warm socks, and Honda Civics.

In each of the last 16 years – a streak which began in 1998 – the Civic has been Canada’s best-selling passenger car. If Honda Canada stopped selling the Civic now, the lead built up by this hugely popular nameplate would nearly be sufficient for the Civic to end 2014 as Canada’s best-selling car.

For a vehicle which suffered declining sales following the heydays of the eighth-generation car between 2006 and 2008, when Honda sold an average of 71,000 per year, 2014 is looking especially bright. Honda sold fewer than 59,000 Civics per year, on average, between 2009 and 2011 but has topped 64,000 units in each of the last two years. Whether Honda sells 69,000 or 71,000 Civics in 2014, we know the figure will result in at least a six-year high.

51,936 Civics have been sold during 2014’s first nine months, an 8% year-over-year improvement.

Yet Canada’s passenger car market is down 1% over the span of 2014’s first nine months. As a result, the Civic’s share of the car market has improved, noticeably so. 8.6% of the cars sold in Canada this year have been Civics, up from 7.9% at the three-quarter mark a year ago. When Honda sold 72,463 Civics in 2008, the Civic was responsible for 8.2% of the car market, and cars accounted for 54.3% of the overall new vehicle market. Traditional passenger cars generate 42.3% of the industry’s volume in 2014.

The total number of Civics sold in Canada in 2014 exceeds the number of cars sold by Ford and Lincoln and is nearly double the number of car sales reported by the Chrysler Group.

The story is pertinent at this time not because of Thanksgiving but because, in September, the Civic was also Canada’s second-best-selling vehicle overall, well back of the all-conquering Ford F-Series but ahead of the usual number two, Ram’s truck lineup. This marked the first such occasion since October of last year.

The Civic was Canada’s top-ranked vehicle line in 2008, but Canada’s taste for full-size pickup trucks has accelerated since then, rising from 190,000 units in calendar year 2008 (11.6% of the overall industry) to 242,000 units in just the first nine months of 2014, equal to 17% of the industry’s total new vehicle sales volume.

How does this compare with U.S. results? Consider the midsize Camry, America’s perennial best-selling car. 5.5% of the passenger cars sold in 2014 have been Camrys, but cars are more favoured in the growing U.S. market, accounting for 48.7% of the overall market. Full-size trucks generate just 12.1% of the industry’s volume.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Nielsen: Baby Boomer Men Greatest Generation Of Connected-Car Users http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nielsen-baby-boomer-men-greatest-generation-connected-car-users/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/nielsen-baby-boomer-men-greatest-generation-connected-car-users/#comments Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930226 Nielsen, who are better known for its television ratings system than much else, recently published a report narrowing down who exactly goes for connected-vehicle technology the most. Short answer: Men 55 and over, college degree in one hand, $100,000 in the other. Breaking it down further, men comprised the majority of all connected-vehicle users at […]

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Cadillac CUE

Nielsen, who are better known for its television ratings system than much else, recently published a report narrowing down who exactly goes for connected-vehicle technology the most.

Short answer: Men 55 and over, college degree in one hand, $100,000 in the other.

Breaking it down further, men comprised the majority of all connected-vehicle users at 58 percent, with 42 percent over the age of 55, 62 percent in possession of a college degree, and 37 percent making over $100,000 annually.

As for how all users end up in a connected vehicle, Nielsen says safety is the biggest factor, with 79 percent believing the vehicle’s technology will keep them safe on the road. Crash notifications, Internet-enabled navigation and safety alerts were at the top of the users’ list when shopping for a new vehicle.

The entertainment side of the infotainment divide also had its day in the sun, with 36 percent of users streaming audio into their car on a regular basis, 26 percent going online, and 21 percent downloading media while riding the real superhighway.

Finally, 84 percent of women who own a connected vehicle consider having their vehicle act as a Wi-Fi hot spot is important to their needs, over 74 percent of men.

Nielsen Connected Car Report 1

Nielsen Connected Car Report 2

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Analysis: The New Brazilian Consumer Rejects Entry-Level Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/analysis-new-brazilian-consumer-rejects-entry-level-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/analysis-new-brazilian-consumer-rejects-entry-level-cars/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 17:13:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928714 In my recent reviews of entry-level cars in Brazil (VW up! and Fiat Uno), I spoke of how these new cars are adding technology to confront newer cars sold in the category immediately above, that of the midlevel compact (Ford Ka). Entry-level car participation in the market is under such pressure, that there are few […]

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1024px-Dacia_Logan_II_(front_quarter)

In my recent reviews of entry-level cars in Brazil (VW up! and Fiat Uno), I spoke of how these new cars are adding technology to confront newer cars sold in the category immediately above, that of the midlevel compact (Ford Ka). Entry-level car participation in the market is under such pressure, that there are few launches aimed directly at that segment, while the midlevel compact has received a plethora of novelties.

As the podium in September is fraught with new names and new competitors keep jumping into the fray, even though YTD sales have slowed 9% to a total of 2,404,032 vehicles, now is an interesting time to analyze what has changed in the Brazilian market and consumer.

For years the top three spots were Volkswagen Gol, Fiat Palio and Fiat Uno, with little variation, being that sometimes a Chevy Celta or Corsa would manage to snag 3rd place. In common, these models shared the fact that they were de facto entry-level cars with the minimum required by law and as bare bones as could be (power nothing, cold air, are you kidding?). This year the market has suffered a whirlwind. Top three most sold cars in September were Fiat Palio, Fiat Strada and Chevrolet Onix. The Palio compromises two cars: the old Palio Fire is still an entry-level car, while simply “Palio” refers to a firmly midlevel compact.  Strada and Onix are also firmly midlevel compacts and priced as such.

What happened? It is my estimation that the reasons for this monumental change are threefold.

Reason number 1 for the change was altered government policy (bless them!). As of the end of last year, all cars in Brazil must come with ABS and double frontal airbags. This led Volkswagen and Fiat to trim their lines and kill off perennial best sellers as updating them through retro-engineering proved expensive. Volkswagen did away with its Gol G4. The Gol G4 was a direct descendent of the first Gol launched in the 80s and sported such antiquities as a north-south engine layout. Due to pricing and fleet sales, that Gol sold as much or more than the much more modern Gol G5 (and now G6) still on sale. Besides the name, nothing else was shared between the two cars. In fact, the Gol G4 was an absolute entry-level car and the G5 and now 6 are firmly midlevel.

Fiat did a similar number and terminated its Uno Mille car. In design and mechanically very similar to the early 80s-launched Uno, it was a survivor. Now only the new Uno remains. Like the Gol, the new Uno uses a new platform and shares nothing with the old one. However, as Fiat used to lump old Uno Mille and new Uno sales together, the Uno nameplate sales has taken a beating and is now only the 6th most sold car in the country.

The second factor is the maturation and segmentation of the Brazilian compact car market. This is reflected in higher transaction prices and better equipped cars. Besides the mandatory airbags and ABS, most private buyers will only buy cars equipped with 4 doors, air conditioning, power steering, electric windows and locks. Makers usually throw in, depending on trim level, such enticements as multimedia centers, as extra dollop of chrome, rain and darkness sensors, and other wow-me technologies. This has created a second category in compact cars, somewhat above the one in which the so-called entry level cars (Uno, Palio Fire, up!, Celta compete). In it are cars like the Chevy Onix, new Ford Fiesta and Ka, Fiat Palio, Hyundai HB20, Toyota Etios, Renault Sandero. This segment has grown 11% compared to 2012, while entry level cars have decreased 34% in the market.

Some makers have even abandoned the entry level sub-segment altogether. Toyota and Hyundai do not compete in it. Fiat’s new Uno is trying to abandon it. Volkswagen’s up! firmly straddles the line between entry and mid-level, tending towards the latter. Ford does not compete in the basest segment, choosing to offer the Ka only as a midlevel offering and the Fiesta in an even higher compact sub-segment, that of the premium compact.

Another segment that competes directly with entry-level cars and takes away from their sales numbers are compact sedans (Fiat Grand Siena and Linea, Nissan Versa, Renault Logan, VW Voyage, Chevy Prisma and Cobalt, Honda City, among many others). Though there are still two entry level sedans (Chevy Classic and Fiat Siena Fire), midlevel sedans are the ones which receive investments and the segment has seen a multitude of recent launches. In comparison to year 2012 levels, the compact sedan category has grown 11%.

A bit more expensive than the sedans, but still derived from compact cars, there is the compact CUV phenomenon. Being the Ford EcoSport and the Renault Duster the two main names in the category, sales have grown 12% since 2012, even managing to grow sales in comparison to the much better year in sales of 2013 (6%). Almost 217 thousand compact CUVs have been registered in Brazil this year.

Riding a similar wave as the CUVs, small pickups grow in popularity year over year. In 2014, the market has grown 5% over 2013 (even though the general market has fallen 9%) and comparing to 2012, there are now 10% more pickups sold every month. This has lead to such phenomena as the Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro being offered in single, extended and even double cab configurations. In February of this year the Strada was the most sold car in Brazil, the first time ever a pick-up won the sales crown. Underscoring its success, September 2014 will go down in the books as the Strada’s best month ever so far in its history. Fiat sold over 14 thousand of their little trucks in that month alone.

As a result of all of this, entry-level cars are down 34% since 2012. Two years ago almost 725 thousand entry-level cars found a home. Now that number is closer to 480 thousand.

The third and final reason is the continuing prosperity of Brazilians. More Brazilians than ever can afford brand-new cars, and though the market is down as the whole country holds its breath over the end of the election period (and businessmen make use of the opportunity to withhold investments and nose voters in the direction of their interests), the Brazilian real still stretches more than before and can now buy more car for relatively less than ever.

All of this results in a market markedly different from a year ago. Safer, more equipped cars are reaching consumers’ hand. Though most sales still rest squarely in the compact territory, it will be interesting to watch if the entry level is abandoned, or should the economy hiccup its way into malaise, if entry-level cars will again find favor in the market. Projecting for the future and analyzing current trends, it seems logical to say that the new Brazilian consumer is here to stay and makers now adapt to his needs and offers him more in order to keep him happy.

Happy confluence indeed!

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