Tag: Sales

By on August 1, 2017

honda fit grille

Exchange rates seriously hurt Japanese manufacturers over the past year as the yen bobbed and weaved following 2015’s surge. However, Honda was not among them. The final quarter of 2016 saw the automaker posting a 27 percent earnings increase, despite being hammered by the same foreign exchange losses as the rest of its Pacific brethren.

The first quarter of 2017 appears to have shaped up much the same way, only with slimmer margins — exactly as Honda predicted. Knowing that the North American market was about to take a turn for the worse, company analysts clung to the hope that more favorable currency rates and higher-than-expected sales in Asia would keep operating profits out of the red. Earnings ultimately creeping ahead by 0.9 percent to 269.21 billion yen ($2.40 billion) for Q1 — no thanks to the United States.  (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-ford-fiesta-hatchback

After months of speculation as to the fate of the Ford Fiesta in North America, as well as months of hazy non-answers from communications staff, Ford Motor Company’s B-segment program manager, Robert Stiller, has stated that the subcompact car segment in Dearborn is dead.

No more Ford Fiesta.

After going on sale in the U.S. in mid-2010 as a 2011 model, the Fiesta’s American seems destined to end this year. Buyers in Europe and overseas — always a reliable draw for itty-bitty cars — are guaranteed a seventh-generation model. Oh boy, do they ever receive a new model. The 2018 Fiesta bows not just as a three- or five-door hatch, but also in luxurious Vignale and soft-roading Active trims.

Over here? Hug your 1.0-liter EcoBoosts tightly and shed a tear, Fiesta fans. The little guy appears doomed for the chopping block. Can Ford interest you in a subcompact crossover? (Read More…)

By on July 22, 2017

2018 Cadillac XTS, Image: General Motors

You can’t compare the traditional passenger car segment to the Titanic speeding towards an iceberg, as the once market-leading segment tore its hull open on that crossover-shaped berg long ago. Cars, especially in North America, are rapidly taking on water and sinking by the bow.

Against this backdrop, a recent — and unconfirmed — report predicting looming death for six General Motors car models came as no shock, though it did raise questions. Would GM really drop a famous nameplate like the Chevrolet Volt? The Cadillac CT6 is barely more than a year old — surely the division wouldn’t go to the expense of building a flagship, then take it behind the barn?

The deaths foretold in the Reuters report would be carried out by 2020, the source claimed. While he didn’t speak to the lifespan of the Volt or the Chevrolet Sonic and Impala, nor the Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac president Johan de Nysschen responded by saying Cadillac’s four-sedan lineup remains safe. Yep, those three sedans will be just fine, he said. Wait, what? (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 Cadillac Escalade

If Cadillac’s top boss, Johan de Nysschen, had his way, The Hunt for Red October would feature a scene in which Capt. Vasili Borodin describes his dream of seeing the United States in an Escalade, not an recreational vehicle.

While General Motors’ luxury division counts on American and Chinese buyers to keep it flush with cash, there’s still room in the fold for other markets. Assuming, of course, those citizens have a willingness to cast off deep-seated consumer habits and, perhaps, prejudices.

After dropping pedestrian vehicles for an all-prestige lineup, GM’s conquest of the Russian luxury market hasn’t yet occurred, though it’s still early days. Sales are looking up. With a new partner in tow, Cadillac feels confident it can muscle out the Germans on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

2017 Honda Ridgeline

The Ford Ranger is poised to return to the domestic market in 2019, accompanied by all the fanfare befitting a junior American icon. Unless the Blue Oval totally botches the job, everyone anticipates the reborn Ranger becoming a big seller in the midsize truck market.

However, there’s already a smaller pickup syphoning off volume from its rivals before the Ranger can avail itself. While sales of most midsize truck models have been cooled by the gentle breeze of market stagnation, Honda’s second-generation Ridgeline has returned with a vengeance, enjoying favorable reviews and posting sales volume not witnessed in over a decade. While Honda still doesn’t move nearly as much midsized metal as Toyota’s Tacoma (which sold 191,631 units in the U.S. in 2016), the Ridgeline proves there is space in the marketplace for more than just body-on-frame offerings.  (Read More…)

By on July 6, 2017

2016 Toyota RAV4/RAV4 Hybrid - Image: Toyota

We’re beginning to pummel a dying horse here but, as you already know, the North American automotive market is shrinking right now. Toyota wants to mitigate this by funneling sales into rental fleets. While this tactic has become unpopular with automakers like General Motors, others have bolstered fleet sales to cope with the lackluster demand. Hyundai, for example, has relied heavily on rental companies to boost its total volume, but the move has placed dealerships and the corporate office at odds with each other.

Toyota’s U.S. deliveries fell 3.6 percent through June of this year, which is 1.5 percent ahead of the industry’s overall decline. The automaker wants to fill the gap by ramping up volume to rental companies before the end of 2017. Like Hyundai, Toyota’s best sellers are passenger cars — which have taken the brunt of consumer apathy of late — but knows it can still unload them on Enterprise, Avis, and Hertz.  (Read More…)

By on July 5, 2017

2017 Volkswagen PAssat R-Line – Image: VW

There’s nothing like the antics automakers get up to when fierce rivalry or falling sales forces an emergency pressing of the desperation button. Just last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles found itself in quite a bit of hot water after its long-running sales-recording practices came under the federal microscope. Mounting pressure eventually forced the company to dial back its monthly figures, shattering some advertisement-friendly sales streaks.

Across the pond, Volkswagen now finds itself with egg (quiche?) on its face following a report by its internal auditors. According to German publication Der Spiegel, the automaker plumped up its French sales tallies for years — to the tune of at least 800,000 vehicles.

The details of this latest case of sales fudging, which apparently went undiscovered for seven years, seem particularly brazen. (Read More…)

By on June 26, 2017

2015-Ford-Focus-06

Ford has plans to halt production of the compact Focus — a one-time juggernaut of a model — for an entire year. But wouldn’t you rather talk about the upcoming Ranger and Bronco?

Of course you would. You’d rather buy one, too, if only the resurrected nameplates were already on lots. Back in 2002, when Limp Bizkit was still on the charts and frosted tips hadn’t entirely disappeared from the hair scene, Ford unloaded 243,199 Focus cars to U.S. buyers. Compare that to the first five months of 2017, where 67,146 Foci left dealer lots in a marketplace where passenger car sales are falling like Brent crude prices in 2014.

It’s against this backdrop that Ford plans to temporarily pull the plug on the Focus. While there’s good reason for the shutdown, the automaker doesn’t seem all that concerned about it. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2017

2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Ti - Image: FCA

The Alfa Romeo brand is an odd duck, and not just because of its “exotic” status or its on-again, off-again history in the United States. Italian car fans love it. Design enthusiasts drool over it. Performance enthusiasts and sports sedan traditionalists pine for a finely balanced, twin-turbocharged Giulia Quadrifoglio. Concerned friends warn them that other, perhaps safer options exist. Money lenders with soft hearts try to raise concerns about reliability.

Love it or fear it, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has high hopes for the Alfa brand in the U.S. but, unlike FCA boss Sergio Marchionne, top American brass are hesitant to put a number to their hopes. For now, Alfa remains a brand without numerical expectations. And that’s the reason you won’t find incentives heaped on Alfa models in the near future. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2017

2014 Toyota Tundra Exterior-016

Now that pickup trucks have graduated from the role of farm and construction site conveyance to family hauler, space and seating have become as important as bed length and payload capacity. Not surprisingly, regular cab pickups and even extended-cab models have become a scarce sight on local roads.

Ram, Toyota and General Motors have since turned their extended cab full-sizers into front-hinged, almost-crew-cab four-doors, leaving Ford and Nissan with the only clamshell layouts in the business. As for regular cabs, who even thinks of those? Not many. So few, in fact, that Toyota beancounters decided to drop the axe.

Yup, there’ll be no regular cab Tundra when the refreshed 2018 models arrive in late summer. Are you sad? (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

2017 Civic Type R (European Version)

You’re not likely to find another car sporting over 300 horsepower and a price below $35,000 with the same kind of visual impact as the Honda Civic Type R. Call it over the top, call it arresting, or call it exactly what you’ve been waiting for.

Honda designers and engineers know what buyers they want to reach — as many as possible. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have decided to spice up its every-popular Civic with warm (Si) and hot (Type R) variants. With both models, deciding on power and price meant walking a fine line. Honda wants the Civic to be a big tent model. Nothing too exclusive, thank you very much.

Regular Civics for the masses, a 205 hp offering for the lively commute type, and a 306 hp hatch festooned with go-fast add-ons for the wannabe (or legitimate) racers. Seems like a pretty good range, right? Nope, there’s still white space in need of filling, says the Civic’s head engineer. (Read More…)

By on June 19, 2017

Chrysler 300 Japan

We all remember former Chrysler Corporation chairman Lee Iacocca railing against the Japanese for their uber-expensive land and not-so-open borders. Well, Jeep sales are slowly picking up in that Detroit Three-averse country, but one storied American brand isn’t doing so hot.

Chrysler. Sure, the brand isn’t doing all that great in its home country, either, what with only two models to show for itself. Still, Japanese buyers seem particularly unimpressed with the sole model Chrysler has to offer it.

Still, even with nearly nonexistent sales, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles isn’t about to throw in the towel just yet. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

fairfax line assembly factory general motors, Image: General Motors

If your current employment involves building a sedan for a domestic automaker, there’s both good and bad news awaiting you. General Motors is extending summer breaks at certain assembly plants and there may be an opportunity for some workers to extend that time off indefinitely, resulting in the least welcome vacations imaginable.

Stagnating sales and a bloated inventory is forcing GM to lengthen its traditional two-week summer shutdown to as many as five weeks for two U.S. factories, according to union officials. The affected plants are Lordstown Assembly, located in Ohio, and Kansas City’s Fairfax Assembly. Lordstown assembles the Chevrolet Cruze while Fairfax is responsible for the midsize Malibu, which has had a horrendous 2017. The Malibu had plenty of company in the doldrums, too. Through May, U.S. car sales were down 11 percent while truck and SUV sales rose by nearly 5 percent, forcing automakers to play favorites(Read More…)

By on June 9, 2017

facebook mobile phone, public domain

Facebook isn’t just a hotbed of meaningless virtue signaling, thinly veiled racism, political rants, and overly serious arguments with people you haven’t seen in several years. It’s also a great place for advertisers to spend their money — at least, that’s what the platform wants automobile manufacturers to believe. The social media site is trying to establish closer ties with the industry, and went so far as to send COO Sheryl Sandberg to Detroit to host the first Facebook Automotive Summit in five years.

However, if you’re anything like me, your feed is probably already clogged up with car ads. This morning’s limited browsing yielded placements for Jaguar and Genesis before asking me when I last drove a Hyundai. Facebook thinks it can do more, targeting the subset of its 2 billion users which could benefit automakers the most. While the website has stepped up its game, future ad investments will still suffer from runoff to zero-engagement click farms in countries like India, Egypt, and Brazil.

A large company might deem those losses acceptable, but does it really matter when so few people buy new cars online?  (Read More…)

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