By on June 16, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Fairfax, Kansas - Image: General MotorsIn September 2017, General Motors will be forced to lay off a large number of workers at its Kansas City, Kansas assembly plant where the Chevrolet Malibu is built.

Only two days ago we learned General Motors would stretch the Fairfax assembly plant’s summer shutdown by an additional three weeks — from two to five in 2017 — because of excessive Malibu inventory. But as GM seeks to maintain a more reasonable grip on incentives than in the past, the only remaining way of reducing an inventory glut is to stop building so many cars.

Unfortunately for some of GM’s Kansas employees, the announcement of a temporary shutdown — the third this year according to the Kansas City Business Journal — will be an insufficient means of reducing stock. The Kansas City Star reports the number of shifts at the plant will be reduced to two in late September.

After Chevrolet’s U.S. midsize sales rapidly elevated to a 36-year high in calendar year 2016 during the ninth-generation Malibu’s launch, volume has declined hard and fast in early 2017. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2017

2017 Toyota Camry SE - Image: Toyota“Stepping up to a midsize is basically a no-brainer for buyers at this point,” CarsDirect’s senior price analyst Alex Bernstein tells TTAC.

With demand for midsize sedans drying up, deals on aging models are warming up.

Now in its sixth model year, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S — the entry-level Passat — is available in June for a 36-month lease at $189 per month and $1,999 due at signing.

The 2017 Honda Accord, a new version of which is due later this year, is also available in June in basic LX trim on the same terms.

Meanwhile, the mid-grade 2017 Toyota Camry SE 2.5, set to be replaced in the coming months by an all-new model, is likewise available in June for $189 per month with $1,999 down over 36 months.

“This is about as cheap as lease deals have ever been on these midsize sedans,” Bernstein says. But it actually gets even cheaper, marginally cheaper, according to CarsDirect’s examination of 500 lease deals. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Passat, Image: Volkswagen

The Volkswagen Passat has a roomie.

Production of the Volkswagen Atlas, Volkswagen of America’s first three-row SUV and the automaker’s first three-row vehicle since the Dodge Grand Caravan-derived Volkswagen Routan fled the scene in 2014, began earlier this year in Chattanooga, Tennessee, previously known as the Passat’s factory.

The first 1,610 copies of the Atlas were sold in May 2017.

Volkswagen, which built the Tennessee assembly plant as part of a goal that would see the brand selling 800,000 vehicles in America per year by 2018, originally intended to build 150,000 vehicles annually in Chattanooga. Only half that capacity was used last year.

If the Volkswagen Atlas becomes the hit the Volkswagen Passat never was, what might that say about the North Americanized Volkswagen Passat’s future?  (Read More…)

By on January 26, 2017

2016 Chrysler 200 - Image: FCA

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ U.S. dealers entered 2017 with more than six-months’ worth of Chrysler 200 supply, according to Automotive News.

That’s enough inventory for America’s latest discontinued midsize sedan, production of which ended eight weeks ago, to linger well into summer, assuming demand remains on an even keel.

Of course, demand for the Chrysler 200 has not flatlined, but rather continues to shrink. This means 200s built in the fourth-quarter of 2016 — or earlier — may well be readily available at a Chrysler dealer near you, not just this summer, but even toward the end of 2017.

You therefore have plenty of time to decide whether you want to take the plunge into a world of defunct nameplates. Based on recent results, it appears that more than 98 percent of midsize sedan buyers don’t. (Read More…)

By on January 12, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry – Image: Toyota“When you get into next year and you look at 2018, I believe with these three products
and the excitement they bring back to that segment, I don’t see it falling anymore.”

– Jack Hollis, Toyota Motor Sales USA’s VP of marketing

U.S. sales of midsize cars tumbled by more than 250,000 units in 2016 even as new vehicle volume rose to record highs. The rate of decline was sharper than the decline experienced by the car sector at large. Only Chevrolet, with the all-new Malibu, and Subaru, with the relatively low-volume Legacy, sold more midsize cars in 2016 than in 2015.

Fleet sales excluded, retail data manifests a worsening of results as the year wore on. According to J.D. Power’s PIN December Industry Health Report, midsize car market share fell below 10 percent for the first time ever.

But Toyota USA’s marketing chief, Jack Hollis, believes 2017 could mark the end of the midsize decline, and 2018 sales of midsize cars could even begin to increase. (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2017

2015-2017 Toyota Camry SE silver

Blame the Rebels.

Nissan’s Rogue was the best-selling vehicle without a pickup bed in December of 2016, largely thanks to a massive advertising campaign that tied into one of the two recent Star Wars movies where only teenaged girls can be trusted to save the universe. Behind it, you had the usual suspects: CR-V, RAV4, Camry, Accord, Civic, Corolla. But even that state of affairs is a major change from business-as-usual a decade or two ago.

You can learn a lot about American society by looking at the best-selling car in any given year. So if we discount the Rogue’s Yavin IV-style moonshot performance, what’s changed about us since, say, 1967 — and what’s stayed the same? More importantly, who killed the Camry?

(Read More…)

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