I really enjoy your articles. Thank you.
I have a question about fleet cars. I was driving to a meeting in one of the fleet cars my employer has. Nothing special, a late model Ford Fusion . And I was thinking is this a better deal to buy when they get rid of it than another used car? Then I realized that people who use a car that doesn’t belong to them trash it. So I thought, “No way!”
Then I realized that the same people who don’t take care of it, aren’t the same people who maintain it. So are fleet cars a better deal then non fleet on the market? After giving them a good cleaning does it not matter one way or the other all other things being the same?
By stealing the Toyota Camry’s best-selling midsize car crown, albeit likely on a temporary basis, the Nissan Altima ended February 2014 as America’s best-selling car overall. The Altima’s lead was also substantial enough last month to make the midsize Nissan America’s leading car year-to-date.
Two years ago, I sat here pontificating about the 2012 Ford Fusion and its potential to be a “game changer” in the mid-size sedan market. Without any kind of concrete claim, it’s difficult for me to gloat about the accuracy of my claim, or for you, the B&B, to mock me for my over-exuberance (ok, it’s not). But this year, I’ve got something better: a prediction market of sorts, for the automotive industry. And it’s open to everyone.
In August, Ford Motor Company started production of their mid-sized Fusion sedan at its Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant, supplementing production in Mexico to keep up with demand.
Meet Chris. Chris is a good friend of mine and a disgustingly handsome and successful young man. He’s 28 years old, has a mid six-figure job, lives in a swanky suburb of Boston, and dates a model who also happens to race motorcycles. Oh, and he also owns a 2013 Shelby GT500. Feel free to start hating him… now. Unfortunately, Chris is impossible to hate. He’s a genuinely good dude who comes from a long line of car guys. His family owned a Ford dealership for decades, and as a result, he’s a self-proclaimed Ford fan.
So when he received a promotion at work that caused him to start driving a lot more than he had previously, Chris did something sensible. He parked the GT500 in his garage and bought a Fusion on D-plan.
But it wasn’t just any Fusion.
With the Flat Rock assembly plant on the cusp of sending cars to dealerships, the Ford Fusion could potentially sell 300,000 units this year, becoming the first car nameplate from Ford to cross that mark in a decade. But to catch the best-selling Toyota Camry, Ford will have to have capacity for 400,000 units – something that could happen as early as 2014.
As is sometimes the case at press events, the VW Full Line Drive whence we gathered these Intramural League driving impressions had a few “competitive vehicles” included as well. The idea is that you drive the featured car back-to-back with the competitor. Having done that, you consider the merits of the respective vehicles, and you consider who paid for your hotel room, and you write the test accordingly. Volkswagen had a wide variety of “competitive vehicles” they could have chosen for the Passat and CC which, so far, have taken fourth and fifth place in our feature. The Malibu, the Accord, the Camry. The car they chose was a brand-new, $27,000, Fusion SE Ecoboost.
I’m not sure that was a good idea.
For the first time, yesterday Ford started assembling the midsize Fusion sedan in the United States as production began at their Flat Rock, Michigan facility. That move will add about 100,000 units a year to Fusion production, which was formerly only done in Hermosillo, Mexico. Ford is looking at options for expanding American capacity even more, should demand grow, and a Ford executive says that the Flat Rock plant could produce yet another model in addition to the Mustangs and Fusions that are currently assembled there.
“We certainly have the flexibility for the future to do more,” Ford president of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs told Reuters. “We’re trying to get our capacity set up to meet demand. With the growing demand for our trucks, growing demand for Fusion, other product lines, that’s what we’re focused on.”
Toyota, which faces increased competition for its midsize Camry in the heart of the U.S. car market, says that it will try to hold the line on prices and incentives while still trying to keep bragging rights as the best selling car in America. At the same time, Ford is ramping up production of the Fusion, which is in short supply, and will be trying to keep transaction prices high as it increases supply. (Read More…)
After adding 600,000 units to its North American capacity within the past two years, Ford is trying to find ways to increase output of the Escape crossover and midsize Fusion, both of which currently have about 40 days supply. The Fusion is particularly in short supply on the east and west coasts, a good sign for any domestic automaker these days. A 60 day supply of cars in inventory is generally considered normal for the U.S. auto industry. Automotive News is reporting that at the Center for Automotive Research’s Management Briefing Seminars, held in Traverse City, Michigan, Ford VP for North America manufacturing, Jim Tetreault, said, “We’re still looking at how we get more out of every plant, and that’ll be a focus for as long as the demand is as strong as it is.”
“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” – Henry Ford
Anyone who aspires to review cars should give Mary Walton’s “Car: A Drama of the American Workplace“ a careful examination. In 392 pages, Walton introduces us to the men and women who went through the gruelling task of designing, engineering and planning DN101, the second-generation Ford Taurus that was meant to dethrone the Toyota Camry once and for all from its spot as America’s favorite car. Only the hardest of hearts would fail to identify with the Ford staffers who spent billions of dollars and countless hours slaving away at a project that ultimately flopped in the marketplace. I know it gave me pause for a long time when it came time to review a car. I began to second guess whether it was right to harp on some poorly fitting trim or wonky steering feel or a carried-over powertrain. Surely, someone wanted to do better, but budget constraints, infighting or other external factors must have conspired to taint their platonic ideal of an automobile.
And then I spoke to someone who worked at Ford and told me the story of their mother’s car shopping experience. “I went to the Lincoln dealer with her to look at a new MKZ,” he told me. “I was there, wearing my Ford jacket, picking the car apart on the showroom floor, cussing and spitting tobacco into a cup. There was flash (extra plastic that hasn’t been filed away) on the fascia. The fit was poor. My mom ended up buying a Lexus.”
Suddenly I didn’t feel so bad anymore.
This year’s sales race in the mid-size segment is one of the most competitive in recent memory. 5 of the top 10 best-selling cars in America are mid-sizers, and automakers are pulling out all the stops in an effort to unseat the Toyota Camry from its standing as America’s best-selling car. But Toyota isn’t going down without a fight.
The last week or two, I’ve been getting the Toronto Sun free of charge. The Sun, as it’s known, could be compared to, say, the New York Post, but it’s really more in the vein of a British tabloid paper. Like the Post, the front page always has some sensationalized headline, and it’s often looked down upon as the newspaper of the uneducated middle class, but if you want to know what’s really going on in Toronto, especially our farcical municipal politics, The Sun cannot be beat.
A piece in Bloomberg that could hardly be seen as anything but relentless Detroit homerism puts forward the thesis that cutting-edge design is helping Detroit capture increasing market share in a white hot new car market. Per Bloomberg
From the fires of Detroit’s descent into near-death, GM, Ford and Chrysler Group LLC have forged some of the most distinctive designs since tail fins were soaring in the halcyon days of the postwar-era. Models such as GM’s Cadillac ATS sports sedan, Ford’s Fusion family car and Chrysler’s Jeep Grand Cherokee are turning heads and stoking sales.
On the strength of stylish new showroom offerings, GM, Ford and Chrysler all gained market share in the first quarter for the first time in 20 years. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s staid standard-bearer, the Camry, has endured three months of declining sales as the automaker ceded U.S. share this year. (Read More…)
According to the “Infinite Monkey Theorem”, if you lock three monkeys in a room with typewriters for infinity, eventually they will produce Hamlet. By the same measure, should you lock three engineers in a room for infinity, eventually they will produce the perfect car. Ford has seemingly absorbed this philosophy through their European division, however, as most theorems go, instead of a the perfect car, they produced “Aston Martin Rapide part Deux, the Budget Restrained Sequel”.