By on August 17, 2017

2017 Ford F-150 Towing - Image: FordThe Ford F-Series was the planet’s best-selling line of new vehicles in the first half of 2017. Boosted by a 9-percent year-over-year global sales increase, the broad F-Series range produced 519,000 total sales in 2017’s first six months, according to JATO Dynamics, about 47,000 more sales than the second-ranked Toyota Corolla.

The F-Series wasn’t the only pickup truck on the list of Earth’s 20 most popular vehicles in 2017, to date. FCA’s Ram P/U lineup ranked 11th and the Chevrolet Silverado grabbed the 15th position. The United States market, on its own, accounts for the overwhelming majority of global sales generated by these full-size pickup families: more than 80 percent for the F-Series, just under 80 percent for the Ram, and nearly 90 percent for the Silverado.

Utility vehicles, meanwhile, earned seven of the top 20 positions. And while seven of the nine cars sold less often in the first half of 2017 than in the equivalent period in 2016, six of the seven crossovers reported year-over-year improvements. (Read More…)

By on August 4, 2017

Mini Cooper 5-door production line Oxford - Image: BMW UKAuto sales in the United Kingdom tumbled 9 percent in July 2017, a fourth consecutive year-over-year monthly decline for a market that had surged to record-high levels in the first-quarter of 2017.

A transitioning period for the Ford Fiesta — entering a new generation that is almost certainly not bound for North America — dropped the UK’s normal best-selling vehicle out of the top spot for a second consecutive month. Another Ford, the Focus, took over as the UK’s top-selling automobile as total sales at Ford, the UK’s top-selling brand, plunged 24 percent compared with July 2016.

Ford’s drop was by no means the only sharp decrease. Losses of more than 20 percent were also reported by Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Citroën’s DS brand, Fiat, Jeep, Peugeot, and Vauxhall.

Apparently, Brexit is to blame. (Read More…)

By on August 3, 2017

2017 Subaru Impreza Limited - Image: SubaruGlobal Subaru operating income rose 19 percent to $1.06 billion in the quarter ending June 30. Net income was up 4 percent to $733 million on an 11-percent revenue increase to $8.9 billion.

Why?

Subaru’s long since gone to look for America. And while U.S. auto sales keep on slowing — falling for a seventh consecutive month in July 2017, for example — Subaru’s U.S. sales keep on rising. July, in which Subaru begins the current fiscal year’s second quarter, was Subaru’s 68th consecutive year-over-year monthly increase.

The U.S. market generated six out of every ten global Subaru sales between April and June. (Read More…)

By on August 1, 2017

2011-2015-2018 Hyundai Sonatas - Images: HyundaiAfter the forgotten third-generation car, the odd and bulbous fourth-generation car, and the dull fifth-generation car, the sixth Hyundai Sonata was unveiled at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show. It was surprising, even shocking, that Hyundai so dramatically transformed its staid midsize car into a radical “fluidic sculpture” sedan.

In the United States, after averaging 132,000 sales over the previous half-decade, the Hyundai Sonata exploded. By 2012, Hyundai sold more than 230,000 copies, and the Sonata averaged 215,000 U.S. sales between 2010 and 2014, a 63-percent increase compared with the previous half-decade average.

The momentum was not sustained. The seventh-generation Hyundai Sonata debuted in the United States at 2014’s New York International Auto Show. Where did the fun go? Where was the drama, the cat-like headlamps, the desire to stand out from the pack?

“We went from a very striking design, to a very beautiful car, but it just didn’t turn heads like the car before it did,” Hyundai Motor America’s vice president of product planning, Mike O’Brien, tells Automotive News. (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

2018 Subaru Crosstrek: Image: SubaruAfter the Impreza-based Subaru Outback Sport failed to catch fire with all the ignition of the Legacy-based Subaru Outback, Subaru’s approach differed only slightly when the XV Crosstrek debuted as an upsized rival for vehicles such as the Nissan Juke. Beating the Honda HR-V, Chevrolet Trax, and Jeep Renegade to the punch, the XV Crosstrek produced consistent and significant year-over-year U.S. sales growth.

From the 53,741 sold in 2013, Subaru reported a 32-percent improvement in 2014, a 25-percent gain in 2015, and a further 8-percent uptick to 95,677 in 2016.

Now that Subaru is preparing to launch the second-generation Crosstrek — the XV tag disappeared after MY2015 — it’s becoming increasingly apparent that Subaru isn’t just making hay off the Crosstrek by selling a whole bunch of Impreza-based tall hatchbacks.

Subaru also sells Crosstreks to the right people. (Read More…)

By on July 28, 2017

2017 Hyundai Ioniq - Image: HyundaiSince arriving early this year, Hyundai Motor America has managed only a meager 4,881 sales of its Prius-fighting Ioniq. Hyundai is certain there are far more Ioniq sales that could occur, however, if only Hyundai had the Ioniqs to sell.

Supply isn’t just tight — the Ioniq Electric is essentially nonexistent at Hyundai’s showrooms in California, the only state where it’s (supposed to be) available.

Yet while Hyundai awaits greater Ioniq inventory, the lack of which is clearly to blame for the low volume to date, it’s becoming increasingly obvious that Kia came out on top in this deal. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas Chattanooga - Image: VolkswagenJune 2017 was only the Volkswagen Atlas’s first full month on sale in the United States, but the Atlas, still ramping up inventory, already accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s U.S. utility vehicle sales. In fact, the only Volkswagens that sold more often than the Atlas in June were the Jetta, Passat, and (if you count all variants together) the Golf.

2,413 units is not a terribly impressive number, although it’s stronger than what the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Volkswagen’s two other utility vehicles managed last month. But the rate at which Volkswagen is building the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant suggests dealers are only beginning to see just how many copies of the Atlas they’ll soon have to sell.

Will there be buyers? (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2017

2017 Nissan Rogue Sport and Rogue - Image: NissanCars are not at the top of the heap.

In fact, not since 2013, when the Toyota Camry was America’s third-best-selling new vehicle, has a passenger car claimed a podium position on the U.S. automotive sales leaderboard. Fast forward to 2017 and passenger cars are way down the list of America’s top-selling new vehicles.

With pickup trucks so obviously differentiated from conventional consumer-oriented vehicles, and with the top-selling trio of pickup trucks (Ford F-Series, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram P/U) so distinctly more common, we’ve compiled this list of America’s 20 top-selling vehicles that aren’t pickup trucks, a halfway measuring stick that shows which vehicles are the dominant market forces through 2017’s first six months. Not including the pickup trucks that own 16 percent of the industry, of course.

The top-ranked nameplate deserves an asterisk — an asterisk that will grow in size over the coming months. And cars? Even with pickup trucks excluded, they miss the podium altogether. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Trax and Sonic - Images: GMPerhaps we oversimplify it. Perhaps we don’t.

Take one Honda Fit or Chevrolet Sonic or Mazda 2, alter the exterior body panels, clad the wheel arches or bumpers in a modest amount of black plastic, periodically route power to the rear wheels without any fancy AWD systems, elevate the roofline, and increase ride height just a bit. Use a typical small car engine, the same transmissions, and many of the same interior bits.

The result: HR-V, Trax, CX-3. Call it a crossover. Dare even to call it an SUV.

And then, according to Kelley Blue Book, charge customers $7,700 more for the privilege. (Read More…)

By on July 24, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: JeepIf the rate of growth FCA’s Jeep brand experienced in the United States in 2016 could be carried forward into 2017, Jeep would sell 1,000,000 SUVs/crossovers this year.

Count the zeros. 1 million.

For a company that sold fewer than 300,000 vehicles per year coming out of the recession, that’s an absurd figure.

Jeep earned 5.4 percent of the overall auto market in the first half of 2016, yet through the first half of 2017, Jeep’s market share has taken a dive to 4.8 percent. In a market gone mad for utility vehicles — where sales of SUVs/crossovers are up 6 percent, year-over-year, despite the market’s downturn — no-car Jeep is losing sales faster than every auto brand aside from Chrysler and Smart.

Worrying? According to Jeep boss Mike Manley, Jeep is, “exactly where I thought we would be in the U.S.” (Read More…)

By on July 21, 2017

Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant Cadillac CT6 - Image: GMThe possibility, or even the necessity, of turning General Motors’ Hamtramck, Michigan, passenger car assembly plant into an SUV/crossover facility in the next half-decade has the company considering the discontinuation of the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse, and recently launched Cadillac CT6.

According to a report in Reuters, General Motors is in talks with the United Auto Workers about replacing the increasingly unpopular products currently built in Hamtramck with in-demand utility vehicles. Also in question is the future of the Michigan-built Chevrolet Sonic and the Canada-built Cadillac XTS, which has enjoyed stays of execution in the past.

On average, GM had a 111-day supply of the six models in its U.S. showrooms heading into July 2017. 70 days’ worth of supply would be appropriate. Combined, the Impala, Volt, LaCrosse, CT6, Sonic, and XTS account for 6 percent of GM’s U.S. sales in 2017.

In 2008, the Impala, LaCrosse, and the Sonic’s Aveo predecessor — merely three of the nameplates — accounted for 12 percent of a much more voluminous GM U.S. operation. (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata - Image: HyundaiLaunched for the 2015 model year, the seventh Hyundai Sonata was not the avant-garde successor to the 2011-2014 Sonata for which many hoped. The new Sonata, while objectively better in virtually every way, was missing a key ingredient.

For 2018, Hyundai has thoroughly refreshed the seventh-generation Sonata, hoping that a far more aggressive front fascia will draw more eyes. Hyundai went much further than the superficial, however, by stiffening the Sonata’s structure, upgrading to an eight-speed automatic, and including more safety equipment as standard fit.

Yet while Toyota and Honda believe their new Camry and new Accord can ignite the midsize sedan segment in a bid to wage war against a crossover onslaught, Hyundai’s goals for the refreshed 2018 Sonata are far more modest. Much more modest. Más modesto. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 BMW X1 white off road - Image: BMWDepending where you live, it’s possible the shift away from luxury cars to luxury SUVs is dramatically more apparent than America’s nationwide figures suggest.

In 48 of 50 states, luxury utility vehicles outsell luxury cars. In seven states, premium brand utility vehicles form more than 65 percent of the premium market.

But according to Edmunds, the two states in which luxury cars still outperform luxury utility vehicles account for 31 percent of America’s luxury SUV market. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti - Image: FCAWe can’t call it The Big Mo. Medium Mo might also be too strong a term.

But Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Alfa Romeo division is beginning to pick up a measure of Giulia sales momentum in the United States. And with the launch of the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, Alfa’s first utility vehicle, occurring now, we should expect to see major improvements in the third and fourth-quarter of 2017.

But this big medium modest momentum comes as high-profile Alfa Romeo Giulias, the Giulias that land in the hands of the people who tell the world about the Giulia, fail with shocking regularity.

The latest failure? Last night, in the hands of a Jalopnik crew that lived to tell the tale. (Read More…)

By on July 13, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Equinox vs Impala/Cruze/Malibu - Images: GMIn June 2017, General Motors reported 29,182 U.S. sales of its Chevrolet Equinox, the company’s most popular non-truck model in America.

A 49-percent year-over-year improvement made June the best month for the Equinox since May 2015.

Combined with sharp declines from Chevrolet’s three mainline sedans, it also made the Equinox more popular in June than the Chevrolet Cruze, Malibu, and Impala combined.

As if we needed more evidence that Americans want crossovers, not cars. (Read More…)

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