Category: Sales

By on April 10, 2017

2017 Mazda 3 5-door – Image: Mazda

Mazda hasn’t always proven capable of winning hearts and minds in the U.S. marketplace. But in buff book comparison tests, Mazda possesses a recipe for success.

Possessed.

Nine months ago, for instance, a 2016 Mazda 3 i Grand Touring spanked the Nissan Sentra and scored substantial victories over the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT and 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited in a five-car Car And Driver comparison test. Only the 2016 Honda Civic EX came close. Car And Driver was quite right in pointing out the Mazda 3 overachieved “in a world where excellence isn’t always rewarded with sales.” TTAC’s east coast reviewers came to the same conclusion four months ago.

Indeed, U.S. sales of the Mazda 3 fell to a 10-year low in 2016. Now, with sales in 2017 on track to fall to a 13-year low, the Mazda 3 has lost a comparison test.

And not just to one car, but two. Read More >

By on April 7, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

So far, there’s no evidence the Trump administration plans to extend the federal tax credit incentive for the purchase of electric and plug-in vehicles.

Designed to kick-start the fledgling technology, the credits — totaling up to $7,500 per vehicle — will run out after automakers finish selling their first 200,000 eligible vehicles — a date that could occur as early as next year for some companies. This means a segment still as embryonic as the infrastructure meant to serve it could soon bite the dust.

A recent report from Edmunds predicts what will happen if the credits die, using a cancelled state credit as a crystal ball. Despite the hype around EVs, those incentives are an intravenous bag keeping the patient alive. Read More >

By on April 6, 2017

2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch - Image: Ford

In March 2017, for the second time in three months, the Ford F-Series range generated more total U.S. sales than the entire General Motors pickup truck lineup.

Total F-Series sales jumped 10 percent to 81,330 units in March, a total that far eclipsed the 71,786-unit figure achieved by the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Colorado, and GMC Canyon — combined. The F-Series’ 10-percent jump occurred as GM pickup sales tumbled 13 percent; as the total truck market grew just 2 percent, year-over-year.

The F-Series’ March performance also represented its sixth consecutive monthly improvement, a sign of consistent growth that suggests Ford may well sell 900,000 pickup trucks in 2017.

Moreover, the F-Series’ consistent growth was cemented in March even as midsize pickup sales growth hit the skids.

New Ranger?

Ach, who needs it? Read More >

By on April 5, 2017

used cars used car lot

The auto industry has really turned a corner over the last decade, but this year has been underlined by an unsettling lack of interest in new vehicles — potentially hinting at the return of a industry-wide crisis. The good news is that abnormally high used car prices are sinking like a stone. The flip-side of that coin, however, means that we could be approaching darker days as more consumers shy away from the new vehicle market.

Most carmakers spent last year enjoying record sales but seemed keenly aware that the market was about to plateau. However, 2017 sales have stagnated more than predicted, with rising interest rates and deflated prices seen on second-hand automobiles. It all looks very pre-recessionish and some analysts are beginning to make fearful noises.  Read More >

By on April 5, 2017

2016 Chevrolet SS - Image: GM

The Chevrolet SS is not what you’d call common. Since launching more than three years ago, only around 9,000 SSs had been sold through the end of February 2017.

There’s always been a righteous hankering for the Chevrolet SS among those in the know. Sure, the bland styling does it no favours. And at nearly $50,000, it lacks any semblance of a premium badge. But there’s a stonking great 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, rear-wheel drive, and manual transmission availability. It’s a BMW M5 at half the price.

Yet the Chevrolet SS has never managed to enter the public consciousness, and even in its best-ever month (April 2016) the Chevrolet SS was outsold by low-volume cars such as the Lexus GS, Volvo S60, BMW i3, Lexus RC, Nissan Leaf, Scion FR-S, and yes, even the Lincoln MKS.

Now, however, the Chevrolet SS has come to the end of its run. The chance to snap up an SS is fleeting. Naturally then, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet SS exploded in March 2017. Read More >

By on April 5, 2017

2018 Buick Regal TourX

With every automaker going all-in on cavernous crossovers and SUVs, Buick certainly hasn’t ignored the trend. The traditional, big-car brand even went so far as to bring us a crossover from China. Still, there’s a legacy nameplate in the lineup in need of nurturing, and it seems only natural (and prudent) that the next-generation Regal ratchets up the versatility.

For 2018, the Regal splits into two body styles, with the traditional variant offering more cargo room than before. Thanks to the midsize model’s Opel Insignia architecture, we’re here to announce a funeral for a longtime member of the automotive world — the Regal’s trunk lid. Yes, this sedan sports a liftback.

If it doesn’t seem like this newly enlarged cargo space will swallow your family’s lifestyle debris, Buick would also like to offer you an all-wheel-drive wagon. Read More >

By on April 4, 2017

2017 Toyota Camry - Image: Toyota

Reaching the end of the line before an all-new 2018 model launches, the outgoing Toyota Camry is — quite predictably — losing sales. After all, the auto industry’s total sales volume is shrinking. Passenger cars, in particular, are paying a price. And the midsize segment is stumbling all the more so. With all these factors contributing, of course the Camry is shedding volume.

Aged, outdated, and antiquated, the Toyota Camry seemingly has the most to lose. Yet despite a 4-percent year-over-year U.S. sales loss in March 2017 and a 13-percent decline through the first-quarter of 2017, the Toyota Camry is gaining heaps of market share in America’s midsize sedan segment, not losing it.

That’s because the cars that are most to blame for the midsize sedan segment’s rapid decline don’t sit at the top of the leaderboard, but rather hail from the JV squad.  Read More >

By on April 3, 2017

2017 Volkswagen model range – Image: Volkswagen

March 2017’s U.S. auto sales volume dropped nearly 2 percent compared with March 2016, failing to live up to forecasts that expected March to be the best end to the first-quarter in nearly two decades.

Despite record volume at Nissan and Infiniti, continued growth at Subaru, meaningful gains at Buick, GMC, Dodge, Mitsubishi, and Ram, a third consecutive month of improvement at Mazda, and minor improvements at numerous other brands, auto sales fell below March 2016 levels because of declines at Ford, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai and Kia combined for an 11-percent slide.

A third consecutive month of year-over-year decline for the industry suggests doom and gloom, as does the fact that inventories are ballooning and incentives are rising. Auto sales remain high, however, and only in comparison with 2016 — a banner year for the industry — do sales appear poor. Through the first-quarter of 2017, U.S. auto sales are down by less than 2 percent. Read More >

By on April 3, 2017

2017 Ford Taurus

The Blue Oval is dolling out Big Green to dealers in an attempt to clear stubbornly unsold 2016 models from its inventory.

The plan could see Ford dealers collect bonuses of up to $6,000 per vehicle, a new report states. As you might have already guessed, the languishing models are certainly not of the truck, SUV or crossover variety. Read More >

By on March 30, 2017

2017 Jaguar F-Pace – Image: Jaguar

Jaguar’s U.S. volume more than doubled in 2016, rising to a 12-year high thanks to the launch of an all-new entry-level sedan and the brand’s first-ever SUV.

The XE and F-Pace, which now account for nearly three-quarters of Jaguar’s U.S. volume, have taken the brand to a high-volume place (relatively speaking) Jaguar hasn’t visited since the X-Type roamed dealer forecourts.

One year ago, those models didn’t exist, and Jaguar was selling fewer than 50 cars per day in America.

Now Jaguar’s on fire. Year-over-year growth is explosive, with Jaguar’s U.S. volume more than doubling in each of the last ten months and more than tripling in each of 2016’s final three months.

That level of growth can’t be sustained. Jaguar Land Rover North America’s CEO Joachim Eberhardt told Wards Auto, “We have to continue to grow, but we are not looking to grow at the pace we have been.”

All that growth “still does not make us a giant luxury brand,” Eberhardt says. “It makes us a bigger luxury brand that now has scale but is still special and exclusive.”

There’s the key word. Exclusive. “I think that is part of our appeal and something to focus on maintaining,” claims Eberhardt.

What a revolutionary approach for a premium auto brand. Read More >

By on March 29, 2017

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLC43 - Image: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz USA’s AMG division now markets 34 different models. Added to the list of the outlandish vehicles, the likes of which made AMG famous in the first place, are a bevy of new, entry AMG models; AMG 43s that were initially badged as “AMG Sports” but now receive the badge treatment due the genuine article.

With the surge in the number of available AMG variants, there has been a surge in sales of Mercedes-AMG vehicles. U.S. volume rose 33 percent, year-over-year, in calendar year 2016 according to Automotive News Europe, and Mercedes-AMG product sales have risen 32 percent so far this year.

That rapid expansion won’t be sustained. Mercedes-Benz USA’s sales vice president, Adam Chamberlain, says growth “will dumb down a little bit through the year.”

But by how much? By the end of 2017, Mercedes-Benz will have expanded its U.S. AMG division from 34 different models to at least 42. Read More >

By on March 24, 2017

Buick Velite 5

Badge-engineered bliss awaits environmentally conscious General Motors buyers in China. Announced today, the Buick Velite 5 range-extended electric vehicle will soon launch in the car-hungry marketplace, but Americans might recognize it as something else.

Hiding in plain sight behind that Buick badge — which carries plenty of sales clout in China — is a Chevrolet Volt, which aims to compete against a host of low-cost electrics and gas-powered compacts. Read More >

By on March 24, 2017

2016 Lexus ES 350

After being knocked off the top perch of the “fastest growing economy” podium in 2016, India is expected to return to the Number One spot both this year and next. The world’s second most populous country has seen average per-capita incomes rise to record levels and, while the average only amounts to $1,500 greenbacks, India’s well-to-do class is thriving.

For automakers, the untapped Indian market offers big potential. The latest to the game: Lexus, which arrived today to offer citizens something better than just a Camry. Read More >

By on March 23, 2017

2017 BMW 340i manual shifter – Image: BMW USA

The manual transmission isn’t dead. But it appears to be dying. Now Munich is making sure everybody knows BMW has a hand in the demise of the third pedal.

At the traditional core of BMW’s U.S. lineup, the manual transmission 7 Series disappeared three decades ago. So foreign is a manual shifter to buyers in the full-size luxury limo category, this seems entirely natural.

M models aside, the U.S. market lost BMW 5 Series manual transmission availability after the 2014 model year.

What’s next?

“Across the world, virtually all of our 3 Series models and above already have automatic transmissions,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson tells Car And Driver.

“We will certainly see fewer and fewer manual transmissions being offered,” says Robertson.

Ultimate Driving Machine? Read More >

By on March 22, 2017

2017_toyota_prius_prime_premium_014_8d5a6573abb048f9ab660135c367b951ccab9f15

Can a hybrid vehicle really shine when there’s a plug-in sibling hogging both the spotlight and the technological podium? For some automakers new to the game, time will tell. But at Toyota, which first made “hybrid” a household word, it seems the introduction of a new Prius variant has tentatively confirmed doubts about the viability of the stock Prius.

We’ll gain better perspective as 2017 plays out, but so far, it’s looking like the Prius Prime plug-in is doing well, and the Prius is maintaining the status quo. Which is to say, it’s not doing well. Read More >

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