The Truth About Cars » small cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:00:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » small cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Mazda USA Isn’t Importing The New 2: Here’s Why http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mazda-usa-isnt-importing-new-2-heres/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/mazda-usa-isnt-importing-new-2-heres/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:51:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1075034   Although the car’s been certified for sale in the United States, Mazda won’t be bringing the new 2 to American consumers. That doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there for the future, according to Automotive News, nor does it mean the 2 won’t appear in the United States in another form. Despite significant improvements, the […]

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2016 Mazda 2

“It’ll always be there if we need it.” – Robert Davis, Senior VP Of Mazda U.S. Operations, on Mazda2.

Although the car’s been certified for sale in the United States, Mazda won’t be bringing the new 2 to American consumers. That doesn’t mean the possibility isn’t there for the future, according to Automotive News, nor does it mean the 2 won’t appear in the United States in another form.

Despite significant improvements, the fourth-generation 2 – formerly known as the Demio and a successor to the first 2 sold in the U.S. – would likely have fared little better than its predecessor.

Mazda began selling the 2 in the U.S. in 2010, at a time when consumers were mad about saving money, not just in terms of payment but also in terms of fuel. Auto consumers are now far more willing to fork over more of their hard-earned cash, even if it means extending the term of their loan.

As a result, subcompact car volume has taken a hit. Through the first four months of 2015, sales of the departing 2 and its better-selling rivals from Nissan, Hyundai, Honda, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, and Kia are down 4%. In fact, April was the first month this year in which subcompact sales increased on a year-over-year basis.

2010 Mazda2

Even before the recent downturn in subcompact car sales and the discontinuation of the America’s first Mazda 2, the subcompact Mazda was not among the leaders in its category. On the contrary, the opposite was true.

Since July 2010, over 58 months, Mazda has sold just 61,909 copies of the 2 in the United States. Nissan can sell that many Versas over the span of just six months.

Mazda2 sales peaked in the model’s second full year of 2012 at just 19,315 units. Yet even in 2012, the 2 ranked last in its category. Even non-traditional small cars like the Fiat 500 and late-to-the-party cars like the Dodge Dart (which only competed in the second-half of 2012) outsold the 2 in its best-ever U.S. sales year. Moreover, Mazda was able to sell six times as many copies of the 3 in 2012 as the 2.

Now, with the CX-3 junior crossover arriving to help the compact 3 bolster Mazda’s volume, the simple cost of marketing the 2, a car which has passed U.S. regulatory hurdles, is deemed to be greater than the potential profit earned from actually selling the car.

If it’s difficult for a large automaker to create sufficient margins on high-volume subcompact cars, it’s obviously going to be far more challenging for a small automaker like Mazda to create sufficient profit of a low-volume car like the 2. While it’s true that consumers would be quick to look at the new 2 differently (there’s no 4-speed automatic, there’ll be a greater feature array including head-up display, fuel economy is said to be 20% better) it’s clear that Mazda believes what’s past is prologue. The first bound-for-America 2 flopped. The experiment didn’t pay off. Let’s not do it again.

2016 Mazda 2 fueleconomy.gov

Meanwhile, for consumers who want a Mazda 2, they’ll still be able to buy one. It won’t be a hatchback, and it won’t wear a Mazda badge. But the upcoming Scion iA is, in essence, a 2016 Mazda 2. From fueleconomy.gov, we can assume that the iA will achieve the same fuel economy as the 2 was said to achieve, since the government website is still showing that the 2 will be made available.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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April 2015: Finally A Strong Month For Subcompact Car Sales In America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/april-2015-finally-strong-month-subcompact-car-sales-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/april-2015-finally-strong-month-subcompact-car-sales-america/#comments Thu, 14 May 2015 16:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1066146 In April, for the first time this year, U.S. sales of the core group of nine subcompact cars increased on a year-over-year basis. After January’s 2% decline, February’s 11% decrease, and March’s 12% drop (and the first-quarter’s 9% decline), April sales of the Nissan Versa-led subcompact group grew 9% compared with April 2014. This brings […]

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2015 Honda Fit

In April, for the first time this year, U.S. sales of the core group of nine subcompact cars increased on a year-over-year basis.

After January’s 2% decline, February’s 11% decrease, and March’s 12% drop (and the first-quarter’s 9% decline), April sales of the Nissan Versa-led subcompact group grew 9% compared with April 2014. This brings the year-to-date tally to 163,309 sales, down 4% over the same period last year.

Although it was the first of the year, April’s increase wasn’t exactly a flash in the pan. There’s been a gradual build-up in subcompact sales during the month of April over the last few years. April 2013 sales jumped 6% and April 2014 sales rose 9% before last month’s 4003-unit, 9% increase.

And the segment didn’t rely on the top-selling Versa/Versa Note for its expansion. In fact, Versa sales slid 8% in April 2015. The Toyota Prius C, Kia Rio, and waiting-for-2016 Mazda 2 declined, as well.

2015 ACCENT

But after troublesome months in which GM’s subcompact market tumbled, Chevrolet Sonic sales improved in April.

The Hyundai Accent surged past the 8K mark for just the second time in 37 months.

Ford Fiesta sales improved on a year-over-year basis for the first time since May 2014.

The new Honda Fit recorded its eighth consecutive month in which sales improved, year-over-year.

For the second consecutive month – and just the second time in 19 months – Toyota USA reported more than 2000 Yaris sales.

Subcompact
April 2015
April 2014
% Change
4 Months 2015
4 Months 2014
% Change
Chevrolet Sonic
8,700
7,655 13.7% 20,015 31,888 -37.2%
Ford Fiesta
5,982
5,824 2.7% 18,092 21,422 -15.5%
Honda Fit
6,529
4,197 55.6% 24,623 14,641 68.2%
Hyundai Accent
8,208
6,419 27.9% 25,007 22,427 11.5%
Kia Rio
2,802
3,214 -12.8% 8,800 12,780 -31.1%
Mazda 2
21
752 -97.2% 249 4,560 -94.5%
Nissan Versa
9,646
10,481 -8.0% 46,644 45,084 3.5%
Toyota Prius C
3,523
3,569 -1.3% 12,402 12,402 0.0%
Toyota Yaris
2,153
1,450 48.5% 7,477 5,594 33.7%
Total
47,564
43,561 9.2% 163,309 170,798 -4.4%

Subcompacts remain low-volume players, even in an especially positive month such as April. Even if we were to include the less ordinary small cars and sub-subcompacts (Spark, Mirage, Mini, as examples), this would still be a low-volume sector of the passenger car market. The Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, on their own, sold 27% more often than the subcompact category as shown here last month. The top-selling Versa is only America’s 16th-best-selling car this year; the 33rd-best-selling vehicle overall. This group of nine accounts for just 7% of the car market in a good month like April; just 3% of the industry’s April volume.

As a result, there’s room for growth. But true subcompact popularity isn’t about to be found in actual subcompact cars. This growth is, at worst, inconsistent, and at best, modest. (This group of subcompacts was up 4% in calendar year 2014 as a follow-up to 2013’s 4% increase.) No, Americans will instead turn toward subcompacts that are priced more like compacts and entry-level midsize cars, vehicles which don’t shout, “I’m frugal!”, to your co-workers, vehicles which are more upright and more spacious, vehicles which aren’t really subcompact cars at all.

U.S. sales of the Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Mini Countryman and Paceman, and Nissan Juke shot up 65% to 17,011 in April 2015. And around the next corner comes the Fiat 500X, Mazda CX-3, and Honda HR-V.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and Facebook.

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Chevrolet Sonic’s U.S. Subcompact Market Share Is Plunging – Started Near The Top Now It’s Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-sonics-u-s-subcompact-market-share-plunging-started-near-top-now/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chevrolet-sonics-u-s-subcompact-market-share-plunging-started-near-top-now/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1053129 GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year. As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly […]

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Chevrolet Sonic sales chart

GM’s share of America’s subcompact segment fell below 10% in the first-quarter of 2015 as Chevrolet Sonic volume tumbled 53%, year-over-year.

As a whole, the subcompact category is in decline in early 2015, but a large part of the category’s 9% drop can be attributed to the Sonic. Sales of the Sonic decreased by nearly 13,000 units over the last three months.

The Sonic ranked as the second-best-selling subcompact in the United States through the first three months of 2014, a position it held at this stage of 2013 and in each of the last three calendar years.

But through the first three months of 2015, the Sonic is America’s fifth-best-selling subcompact, 25,683 sales back of the top-selling Nissan Versa, a vehicle it trailed by fewer than 11,000 units at this stage in 2014.

In 2014’s first-quarter, the Sonic’s market share climbed to 19% thanks to a 4124-unit improvement year-over-year. A market share drop of nearly ten percentage points just one year later is a shock to GM’s small car system.

2015 Chevrolet Sonic lineup

Chevrolet Spark sales are down 5% this year. Chevrolet Cruze volume is off by 7%. Overall Chevrolet car sales are down 17%. Likewise, General Motors car volume in the U.S. is down 17%, a 45,487-unit deficit (year-over-year) that’s been erased by a 21% surge in light trucks, including a 48,046-unit increase among pickup trucks.

GM has known for quite some time that demand for the Sonic was way below previous expectations. Automotive News reported three months ago that Sonic production at the Orion plant in Michigan would be suspended to clear out a Sonic glut.

But it’s taking a while. At the beginning of this month, GM had a 160-day supply of Sonics. That’s well down from the 258-day supply one month earlier, but still well in excess of the 59-day average across the industry.

Meanwhile, the Sonic isn’t the only subcompact suffering from a downturn. The aging Ford Fiesta is down 22% this year. Kia Rio volume has plunged 37%. The Mazda 2, in a replacement phase, is down 94%. But none of those holes are as large as the one left by the dramatically less popular Sonic, without which the subcompact category would be up 1% in early 2015.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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November 2014 Was The Dodge Dart’s Best Month Ever http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/november-2014-dodge-darts-best-month-ever/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/november-2014-dodge-darts-best-month-ever/#comments Sun, 14 Dec 2014 13:36:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=960497 The Chrysler Group reported the Dodge Dart’s best-ever sales month in November 2014 as year-over-year volume jumped 39% to 9012 units. This was the first time Dart volume climbed beyond 9000 units in a single month. The previous top month for this modern incarnation of the Dart was May of this year, when 8644 were […]

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2015 Dodge DartThe Chrysler Group reported the Dodge Dart’s best-ever sales month in November 2014 as year-over-year volume jumped 39% to 9012 units.

This was the first time Dart volume climbed beyond 9000 units in a single month. The previous top month for this modern incarnation of the Dart was May of this year, when 8644 were sold.

Yet at best, a best-ever month from the Dart still represents nothing more than a mid-pack performance.

Toyota sold 2.8 Corollas for every Dart sold by Dodge in November. (Year-to-date, Corolla volume is four times stronger.) The Honda Civic and Chevrolet Cruze both sold more than twice as many copies as the Dart did last month. By large margins, the Dart was also outsold by the Volkswagen Jetta, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, and Nissan Sentra.

Through the first eleven months of 2014, Dart volume is down 1% compared with the same period one year ago. However, the trend has been much more favourable since the beginning of May. Over the last seven months, year-over-year Dart volume is up 17%, an 8K-unit gain.

The Dart’s November performance was especially strong in a particularly healthy month for the compact car segment as a whole. Sales of Corolla-class cars are up just 3% this year but jumped 8% in November thanks in large part to big gains from the Corolla (up 14%, equal to 3175 units), Chevrolet Cruze (up 26%, 4657 units), Volkswagen Jetta sedan (up 32%, 3440 units), and the Dart. Nissan Sentra sales jumped 16% and the Kia Forte was up 14% for a combined 2490-unit improvement.

As for its impact on the overall Chrysler Group, the Dart generated 5.3% of Alfa/Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat/Jeep/Ram sales in November of this year, up from 4.6% in November 2013. Chrysler says their four car-selling brands generated a combined 26% year-over-year car improvement last month, although pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and minivans still accounted for 76% of the company’s total volume.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Analysis: The New Brazilian Consumer Rejects Entry-Level Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/analysis-new-brazilian-consumer-rejects-entry-level-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/analysis-new-brazilian-consumer-rejects-entry-level-cars/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 17:13:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928714 In my recent reviews of entry-level cars in Brazil (VW up! and Fiat Uno), I spoke of how these new cars are adding technology to confront newer cars sold in the category immediately above, that of the midlevel compact (Ford Ka). Entry-level car participation in the market is under such pressure, that there are few […]

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1024px-Dacia_Logan_II_(front_quarter)

In my recent reviews of entry-level cars in Brazil (VW up! and Fiat Uno), I spoke of how these new cars are adding technology to confront newer cars sold in the category immediately above, that of the midlevel compact (Ford Ka). Entry-level car participation in the market is under such pressure, that there are few launches aimed directly at that segment, while the midlevel compact has received a plethora of novelties.

As the podium in September is fraught with new names and new competitors keep jumping into the fray, even though YTD sales have slowed 9% to a total of 2,404,032 vehicles, now is an interesting time to analyze what has changed in the Brazilian market and consumer.

For years the top three spots were Volkswagen Gol, Fiat Palio and Fiat Uno, with little variation, being that sometimes a Chevy Celta or Corsa would manage to snag 3rd place. In common, these models shared the fact that they were de facto entry-level cars with the minimum required by law and as bare bones as could be (power nothing, cold air, are you kidding?). This year the market has suffered a whirlwind. Top three most sold cars in September were Fiat Palio, Fiat Strada and Chevrolet Onix. The Palio compromises two cars: the old Palio Fire is still an entry-level car, while simply “Palio” refers to a firmly midlevel compact.  Strada and Onix are also firmly midlevel compacts and priced as such.

What happened? It is my estimation that the reasons for this monumental change are threefold.

Reason number 1 for the change was altered government policy (bless them!). As of the end of last year, all cars in Brazil must come with ABS and double frontal airbags. This led Volkswagen and Fiat to trim their lines and kill off perennial best sellers as updating them through retro-engineering proved expensive. Volkswagen did away with its Gol G4. The Gol G4 was a direct descendent of the first Gol launched in the 80s and sported such antiquities as a north-south engine layout. Due to pricing and fleet sales, that Gol sold as much or more than the much more modern Gol G5 (and now G6) still on sale. Besides the name, nothing else was shared between the two cars. In fact, the Gol G4 was an absolute entry-level car and the G5 and now 6 are firmly midlevel.

Fiat did a similar number and terminated its Uno Mille car. In design and mechanically very similar to the early 80s-launched Uno, it was a survivor. Now only the new Uno remains. Like the Gol, the new Uno uses a new platform and shares nothing with the old one. However, as Fiat used to lump old Uno Mille and new Uno sales together, the Uno nameplate sales has taken a beating and is now only the 6th most sold car in the country.

The second factor is the maturation and segmentation of the Brazilian compact car market. This is reflected in higher transaction prices and better equipped cars. Besides the mandatory airbags and ABS, most private buyers will only buy cars equipped with 4 doors, air conditioning, power steering, electric windows and locks. Makers usually throw in, depending on trim level, such enticements as multimedia centers, as extra dollop of chrome, rain and darkness sensors, and other wow-me technologies. This has created a second category in compact cars, somewhat above the one in which the so-called entry level cars (Uno, Palio Fire, up!, Celta compete). In it are cars like the Chevy Onix, new Ford Fiesta and Ka, Fiat Palio, Hyundai HB20, Toyota Etios, Renault Sandero. This segment has grown 11% compared to 2012, while entry level cars have decreased 34% in the market.

Some makers have even abandoned the entry level sub-segment altogether. Toyota and Hyundai do not compete in it. Fiat’s new Uno is trying to abandon it. Volkswagen’s up! firmly straddles the line between entry and mid-level, tending towards the latter. Ford does not compete in the basest segment, choosing to offer the Ka only as a midlevel offering and the Fiesta in an even higher compact sub-segment, that of the premium compact.

Another segment that competes directly with entry-level cars and takes away from their sales numbers are compact sedans (Fiat Grand Siena and Linea, Nissan Versa, Renault Logan, VW Voyage, Chevy Prisma and Cobalt, Honda City, among many others). Though there are still two entry level sedans (Chevy Classic and Fiat Siena Fire), midlevel sedans are the ones which receive investments and the segment has seen a multitude of recent launches. In comparison to year 2012 levels, the compact sedan category has grown 11%.

A bit more expensive than the sedans, but still derived from compact cars, there is the compact CUV phenomenon. Being the Ford EcoSport and the Renault Duster the two main names in the category, sales have grown 12% since 2012, even managing to grow sales in comparison to the much better year in sales of 2013 (6%). Almost 217 thousand compact CUVs have been registered in Brazil this year.

Riding a similar wave as the CUVs, small pickups grow in popularity year over year. In 2014, the market has grown 5% over 2013 (even though the general market has fallen 9%) and comparing to 2012, there are now 10% more pickups sold every month. This has lead to such phenomena as the Fiat Strada and Volkswagen Saveiro being offered in single, extended and even double cab configurations. In February of this year the Strada was the most sold car in Brazil, the first time ever a pick-up won the sales crown. Underscoring its success, September 2014 will go down in the books as the Strada’s best month ever so far in its history. Fiat sold over 14 thousand of their little trucks in that month alone.

As a result of all of this, entry-level cars are down 34% since 2012. Two years ago almost 725 thousand entry-level cars found a home. Now that number is closer to 480 thousand.

The third and final reason is the continuing prosperity of Brazilians. More Brazilians than ever can afford brand-new cars, and though the market is down as the whole country holds its breath over the end of the election period (and businessmen make use of the opportunity to withhold investments and nose voters in the direction of their interests), the Brazilian real still stretches more than before and can now buy more car for relatively less than ever.

All of this results in a market markedly different from a year ago. Safer, more equipped cars are reaching consumers’ hand. Though most sales still rest squarely in the compact territory, it will be interesting to watch if the entry level is abandoned, or should the economy hiccup its way into malaise, if entry-level cars will again find favor in the market. Projecting for the future and analyzing current trends, it seems logical to say that the new Brazilian consumer is here to stay and makers now adapt to his needs and offers him more in order to keep him happy.

Happy confluence indeed!

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Corolla Getting Set To Retake Small Car Sales Crown http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/corolla-solidifying-small-car-sales-lead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/corolla-solidifying-small-car-sales-lead/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882210 During a nine-year stretch between 2003 and 2011, the Toyota Corolla was consistently America’s best-selling small car. For eight of those years, consecutively between 2003 and 2010, the Honda Civic was America’s second-best-selling small car. Designs, architectures, and rivals changed, but the Corolla stayed on top. Yet while sales of the Corolla jumped 21% in […]

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2014_Toyota_Corolla_S, Picture Courtesy of Toyota

During a nine-year stretch between 2003 and 2011, the Toyota Corolla was consistently America’s best-selling small car.

For eight of those years, consecutively between 2003 and 2010, the Honda Civic was America’s second-best-selling small car.

Designs, architectures, and rivals changed, but the Corolla stayed on top.

Yet while sales of the Corolla jumped 21% in calendar year 2012 and sales of 2011’s second-ranked small car, the Chevrolet Cruze, increased 3%, sales of the Honda Civic shot up 44%. After this 2012 performance in which Civic sales rose above 300,000 units, Honda reported a further 6% increase in Civic volume in 2013. Even as the aging Corolla was replaced by a far less conservative car, the Corolla’s 4% increase to 302,180 units wasn’t nearly enough to catch the Civic.

After a two-year hiatus, however, Toyota USA appears poised to take back the small car sales crown. Through seven months, the Corolla has outsold the Civic by 7987 units. On a monthly basis, the Corolla has outsold the Civic in six of the last seven months, losing out only in June. Moreover, Corolla volume is increasing at a much sharper rate of late, climbing 24% over the last four months, a period in which Civic sales have grown only 6%, year-over-year.

Toyota won’t celebrate this victory too early. (The Camry’s consistent position atop the overall car category is of greater consequence, regardless.) The Corolla was 2013’s early small car sales leader, as well. At the halfway mark last year, the Corolla was a few hundred sales ahead of the Honda. One month later, the Civic was nearly 7700 units ahead of the Corolla.

U.S. small car sales chart July 2014 YTDTaken together, the Civic and Corolla, with steady assistance from the Nissan Sentra, have been the force powering the otherwise stagnant compact sector forward this year. Year-to-date sales of the Dodge Dart, Ford Focus, Hyundai Elantra, Mazda 3, Mitsubishi Lancer, Volkswagen Golf, and Volkswagen Jetta have declined. Chevrolet Cruze sales, though healthy at the beginning of the year, have tumbled in each of the last two months. Kia Forte sales are up 5% in 2014, but that equals fewer than 2000 extra sales for the segment, and the Forte’s gains are more than offset by the loss of 15,492 sales by its Hyundai Elantra partner. WRX/STi aside, sales of the regular Subaru Impreza are up by only 1300 units.

Compact sales are up just 1% overall this year, yet Corolla/Civic/Sentra sales have risen 14%. Excluding the trio from the equation results in a decline of 6% for the compact class.

Mazda, meanwhile, sells but one 3 for every 3.3 Corollas. No, Mazda doesn’t have the same capacity for massive U.S. success, nor do Mazda dealers possess the kinds of inventory to challenge the dominant players. But if that isn’t a sign of what the market wants, what is? (The ratio was 2.4-to-1 just two years ago.)

Improvements aside, the latest Corolla is still far from the enthusiast’s favourite. Becoming more like the Corolla (and less appealing to enthusiast drivers) hasn’t hurt the Civic and Sentra, either. Nissan has already sold more Sentras in 2014 than in all of 2012. Unless the trend reverses itself, 2014 could end as the Civic’s first ever year above 340,000 units.

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Nissan To Drop Versa Sedan In Canada As Micra Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/nissan-to-drop-versa-sedan-in-canada-as-micra-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/nissan-to-drop-versa-sedan-in-canada-as-micra-debuts/#comments Mon, 24 Feb 2014 18:45:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=752905 The Canada-only Nissan Micra debuts in April, with Nissan hoping to pick up overall market share in The Great White North. But Automotive News reports that one casualty of the Micra’s introduction will be the Versa Sedan – hardly a surprise when both compete at the absolute low end of the market. While the Versa Note will […]

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The Canada-only Nissan Micra debuts in April, with Nissan hoping to pick up overall market share in The Great White North. But Automotive News reports that one casualty of the Micra’s introduction will be the Versa Sedan – hardly a surprise when both compete at the absolute low end of the market.

While the Versa Note will still be sold in Canada, the Sedan will be dropped according to Nissan Canada spokesman Didier Marsaud. Citing Nissan’s three subcompact entries, Marsaud told TTAC

“The Nissan Micra has been extensively tailored for Canadians and specifically to complement the Versa Note in Nissan Canada’s product lineup.  We decided that it is best to focus Nissan Canada and our Dealers’ attention on Versa Note and Micra.  As a result, we made the decision to discontinue selling Versa Sedan in Canada after the 14 Model Year.”

Removing the Versa sedan also gives the Sentra some breathing room, with the Sentra outselling the entire Versa lineup by a couple thousand units in 2013.

 

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MINI Seeks Partner For Smaller MINI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/mini-seeks-partner-for-smaller-mini/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/mini-seeks-partner-for-smaller-mini/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 15:47:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=670834 Though MINI’s lineup hasn’t (literally) lived up to its name since its reboot by parent BMW, product boss Pat McKenna would like to see the Rocketman — a MINI that truly is mini — appear in showrooms all over the world. For that scenario to play out, though, the Rocketman needs a flight partner. The […]

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Though MINI’s lineup hasn’t (literally) lived up to its name since its reboot by parent BMW, product boss Pat McKenna would like to see the Rocketman — a MINI that truly is mini — appear in showrooms all over the world.

For that scenario to play out, though, the Rocketman needs a flight partner.

The main issue is one of platform; while the newest MINI hardtop rides on the same platform that will make its way into BMW’s smallest offerings, it’s impossible to scale it down to the size of the Rocketman, and BMW doesn’t want to invest the money in an all-new front-drive architecture of that size, especially if its just for one model. Therefore, BMW is looking for a Toyota-Subaru arrangement where two companies would split the development costs.

Alas, McKenna still hasn’t found what he’s looking for in a suitable partner chassis, due to MINI’s focus on driving performance. That said, he does see potential in the Rocketman in markets near and (especially) far, and would love to sell the fun-size coupe in showrooms all over the world should the right partnership were to be forged.

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Mercedes-Benz Going After MINI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/mercedes-benz-going-after-mini/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/mercedes-benz-going-after-mini/#comments Wed, 17 Apr 2013 11:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=485159 Mercedes-Benz is apparently preparing for a new line of models to slot below the A-Class, to better compete with MINI. Reuters quotes the German news magazine Focus in claiming that “The offensive is due to kick off in 2015 with an SUV that is even smaller than the new GLA compact crossover, due to be […]

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Mercedes-Benz is apparently preparing for a new line of models to slot below the A-Class, to better compete with MINI.

Reuters quotes the German news magazine Focus in claiming that

“The offensive is due to kick off in 2015 with an SUV that is even smaller than the new GLA compact crossover, due to be unveiled at the Shanghai auto show later this month,…A three-door model to compete with BMW’s Mini will follow in 2016, with prices for all cars to range between 17,000 euros ($22,300) and 20,000 euros.”

 It’s unclear whether the cars will be branded as Mercedes-Benz products or not, but they will slot above the Smart range. With one of the highest average buyer ages in Europe, small cars like these will be the key to bringing in younger (and less affluent) buyers for Mercedes cars – rather than buyers looking for their last set of wheels.

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Mini John Cooper Works GP Absolves The Sins Of Brand Dilution http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/mini-john-cooper-works-gp-absolves-the-sins-of-brand-dilution/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/mini-john-cooper-works-gp-absolves-the-sins-of-brand-dilution/#comments Sun, 13 May 2012 13:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=444158   Has Mini’s over-propagation of vehicles gotten so bad that we’re actually cheering when a new special isn’t a silly two-seater or pseudo-crossover? The Mini John Cooper Works GP may be overpriced, but at least it’s got its heart in the right place. It could do without the gauche aerokit, graphics and pizza-cutter wheels but the “race […]

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Has Mini’s over-propagation of vehicles gotten so bad that we’re actually cheering when a new special isn’t a silly two-seater or pseudo-crossover? The Mini John Cooper Works GP may be overpriced, but at least it’s got its heart in the right place.

It could do without the gauche aerokit, graphics and pizza-cutter wheels but the “race spec” suspension will only add to the Mini Cooper S JCW’s already fantastic chassis. Upgraded brakes, extra power (the new car will surely make more than the 214 horsepower than the last GP edition did) help enhance performance, and the GP also loses its back seat in the name of weight reduction.

Only 2,000 GP editions will be made, with sales going on across the globe. Expect prices to be astronomical for what this car is. But it will probably be a hoot to drive all the same.

Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Mini John Cooper Works GP. Photo courtesy MINI. Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Editorial: With Fiat Sales Soaring In Canada, Is It Time For More European Small Cars? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/editorial-with-fiat-sales-soaring-in-canada-is-it-time-for-more-european-small-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/editorial-with-fiat-sales-soaring-in-canada-is-it-time-for-more-european-small-cars/#comments Wed, 02 May 2012 16:34:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=442470 What do Buick, Volvo, Infiniti, Mini, Cadillac, Lincoln, Suzuki and Scion have in common? All were outsold by Fiat in Canada last month. Sales analyst Tim Cain uncovered the data during his monthly sales research, and data shows gradual increases this year for the 500 in the United States. In Canada, the gains are even better, […]

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What do Buick, Volvo, Infiniti, Mini, Cadillac, Lincoln, Suzuki and Scion have in common? All were outsold by Fiat in Canada last month.

Sales analyst Tim Cain uncovered the data during his monthly sales research, and data shows gradual increases this year for the 500 in the United States. In Canada, the gains are even better, with Canadians taking to the small, stylish compact car, warts and all. The upcoming 500L should be an equally strong success, and the Punto replacement due at the end of 2013 should provide a strong challenge in the highly competitive compact segment.

A few years ago, while having lunch with a VW Canada sales executive, I was told that VW would have brought the Polo to Canada long ago, but the homologation process (practically identical to the United States) made it difficult to justify. The sales were there, but the added cost of bringing it up comply with various regulations wouldn’t make it feasible. On the other hand, the Polo was sold in Australia, which had a comparable population, more expensive cars and looser regulations.

We all know Canadians love small cars, hatchbacks and European brands (though, to be fair, the best-selling vehicle is the Ford F-Series). And the country’s higher gas prices add a further incentive to purchase small, fuel-efficient cars. Although journalists  and enthusiasts in both Canada and the United States have long asked for European compact cars (especially diesels) to make their way over to North America, there may finally be a business case for doing so in Canada.

With news that Mitsubishi will bring their stripped-down Mirage (meant for Thailand and other emerging markets) to Canada but not necessarily the U.S, it’s prudent to start looking around for other candidates. The new tie-up between General Motors and PSA yields the most enticing fruit. The Fiat 500’s success, in my opinion, comes from a perceived premium image versus, say, a Chevrolet Sonic or Toyota Yaris, and a comparable sticker price.

So why not something like the Citroen DS line or the Peugeot 208? The DS line, supposedly Citroen’s premium small car line, could take the fight to everything from the Hyundai Elantra to the VW Golf/Jetta. Citroen execs are even on record about bringing their cars to Canada as far back as 2006. Even SEAT was rumored to be coming in 1994, although such whisperings are now largely the stuff of legend. The 500s two-door body style and small size effectively limits it to a niche category. But the bigger, 4-door Citroens with their increased cargo and passenger room, more powerful engines and larger footprint would be able to attract a whole new type of buyer, while battling established players like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Accent and Volkswagen Golf.

The Francophone angle would play well in Quebec, which comprises a quarter of Canada’s auto market and loves compact, fuel-efficient cars (and stick shifts). In Canada as a whole, diesels are much more widely accepted than the United States, and the fuel is often a few cents cheaper than gasoline. Mercedes-Benz SUVs are widely purchased with BlueTec engines, suggesting that even in the premium segment, consumers are open to the idea of an alternative fuel that isn’t a hybrid.

There are undoubtedly a large number of issues that would prevent near-term sales of new European brands. But it may be something worth examining in the intermediate, especially with the return of Alfa Romeo – a brand that should do even better in Canada, given that it has a wider range of products than Fiat, and the requisite Italian cred. Alfa Romeo also has a distinctive advantage in that Fiat and Chrysler are already here on the ground. Having seen a small sliver of what it took just to establish Kia in Canada (my father acted as their legal representation during those years), it stands to reason that setting up Peugeot, Citroen or any other European brand from scratch would be similarly daunting.

Ironically, Renault, with the backing of Nissan may be best positioned to return here (at least on paper), having sold cars in Canada as late as the 1980’s. Nissan has a strong dealer network, and a full-range of Renault cars (a mix of Dacias and Renaults, which would suit Canada well) are already sold in Mexico. Alas, Carlos Ghosn is pretty adamant that Canada and the US won’t see these products. GM and PSA could very well come to the same conclusion, preferring to sell the Spark, Sonic and Cruze. Hopefully we’ll see a more diverse product mix in the future, even if the odds aren’t on our side.

 

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Generation Why: They Can Tell You Don’t Get It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/generation-why-they-can-tell-you-dont-get-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/generation-why-they-can-tell-you-dont-get-it/#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2012 13:13:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=436160 “We tried to teach dealers how to calibrate conversations,” Mr. Martin said. “Stop trying to be cool and give them the fist pump. They can tell you don’t get it. Journalism profs would admonish us for “burying the lede”, or hiding the most important information way down in the story, rather than putting it at […]

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“We tried to teach dealers how to calibrate conversations,” Mr. Martin said. “Stop trying to be cool and give them the fist pump. They can tell you don’t get it.

Journalism profs would admonish us for “burying the lede”, or hiding the most important information way down in the story, rather than putting it at the front where it’s easily accessible. Amy Chozick of the New York Times put that gem at the very end of her article on how General Motors is hiring consultants from MTV, including Ross Martin, quoted above, to help their brand connect with young people. Mr. Martin, take your own advice.

Instead, the article opens like this

Ross Martin, 37, is a published poet and a former drummer in an alternative rock band. Wearing Nike high tops and loose-fitting jeans, he is the kind of figure who wouldn’t attract a second glance on the streets of Brooklyn, where he lives.

37 years old is hardly over the hill, but is a 37 year-old really in touch with what people born in 1996 really like? Do they even know what a cassette tape is. Martin, meanwhile, was a “drummer in an alternative rock band”. Nirvana is now played on my classic rock station, and GM wants him to sell cars to a generation that thinks “cooking” is a hip-hop dance, not a reason to go to the Williamsburg Farmer’s Market.

He and his team are trying to help General Motors solve one of the most vexing problems facing the car industry: many young consumers today just do not care that much about cars.

False. The article’s commenters cite everything from expense, to the environment, to social media as reasons why youth have abandoned the automobile. The truth is, they never have.Young people care about cars. Yes, we are broke, gas is more expensive, we care about the environment even though we consume, consume, consume like never before. We still need cars. We still don’t like taking transit, if we can at all. If one of our friends has a car, we will ask them for a lift home, no matter how much pro-cycling-and-walkable-cities gospel we preach. If we’re going to buy a car, it better be worth it. Worth the expense of and hassle. A Sonic is a nice car. It’s not worth it.

Young people are buying used S2000s. Young people are awaiting the launch of the Scion FR-S like it’s The Second Coming. Young people would do terrible things for an Audi R8. Young people do terrible things, financially speaking, to lease a BMW 328i or Infiniti G37 or Mercedes C-Class. But, here’s the kicker. Young people do not want any part of what’s being sold to them as affordable transportation

Last summer, Mr. Martin and his team temporarily transformed part of the G.M. lobby into a loftlike space reminiscent of a coffee shop in Austin or Seattle, with graffiti on the walls and skateboards and throw pillows scattered around. As part of its “Millennial-Con,” Scratch brought in viral video stars like Sergio Flores, known as the Sexy Sax Man, a musician with a mullet and a denim jacket.

Do they know that a lot of young people like the Cruze precisely because it doesn’t look like it starts at $16,800? Don’t believe me? Look at the Cruze sales numbers. Even better than the Focus. Luxury goods have trickled so far down the social ladder that even a girl who works retail for minimum wage can buy a $900 Louis Vuitton purse. I said “can buy” not “afford” so don’t worry about a $12,000 Spark. Make something that looks like an Audi S5, base it on the Cruze platform (go ahead, it’s ok, most of them won’t know, and the ones that do will be go back to playing Gran Turismo anyways) and you’re half way there. The Code and Tru concepts were a step in the right direction. Don’t listen to the critics. They’re old men. They just want a Cruze diesel wagon with a 6-speed sitck.

They studied a collage loaded with images of hip products like headphones created by Dr. Dre, a tablet computer and a chunky watch. The board inspired new Chevrolet colors, like “techno pink,” “lemonade” and “denim,” aimed at “a 23-year-old who shops at H&M and Target and listens to Wale with Beats headphones,” said Rebecca Waldmeir, a color and trim designer for Chevrolet. This rainbow of youthful hues will be available on the Spark this summer.

Young people would rather get herpes than go to the “Sonic Lounge” at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. Ask Ford how their “Fiesta Movement” worked out, without Ford mentioning how many “social media impressions” the car got. Car companies that indulge in these silly campaigns are like an obese person trying to lose weight by switching from Coke to fruit juice when what’s really needed is hard physical exercise and most importantly, self-discipline.

If I had the secret to marketing to youth, I’d probably flying into Mustique right now. But I do. Ready for it? We want to buy cars marketed to older, more succesful people. We always have, we always will. Ask a young person,full of ambition and promise, trying to get ahead in the world with a crappy job that doesn’t pay much, what car they prefer – as in, what car suits their self-image better; a Hyundai Veloster, or a Hyundai Elantra. One looks like a child’s toy. The other looks like a Mercedes-Benz if you squint just a little. And yes, I’ve done this field test many times before. I know a few people with Elantras, Sonatas and even Rios. Nobody I know has bought a Veloster.

GM, it’s a good thing that young people don’t read newspapers and this article appeared in the New York Times. Your target demo is already making fun of this article, your marketing people and your lame efforts on Facebook. Vehicle lead times and social trends move at such different paces that they will never intersect and you will never be able to catch them. Stop this silly endeavor. Fire the marketers. Let the engineers and product types do their thing. We can tell you don’t get it.

 

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Fiat USA May Expand Lineup Beyond 500L http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/fiat-usa-may-expand-lineup-beyond-500l/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/fiat-usa-may-expand-lineup-beyond-500l/#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2012 17:25:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=435496 The Fiat 500L may be joined by another Fiat product, but the brand’s North American head said that it won’t necessarily resemble the 500 vehicles. Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Fiat’s Tim Kuniskis said “We won’t bring you a commodity car…”Style, for sure, will be No. 1,” Kuniskis said. “Any car we sell has […]

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The Fiat 500L may be joined by another Fiat product, but the brand’s North American head said that it won’t necessarily resemble the 500 vehicles.

Speaking to the Detroit Free Press, Fiat’s Tim Kuniskis said

“We won’t bring you a commodity car…”Style, for sure, will be No. 1,” Kuniskis said. “Any car we sell has got to be something different.”

Author Mark Phelan notes that while Mini has boxed itself into a corner because of its reliance on brand heritage (i.e. many different variants of the same shape), Fiat has produced a wide variety of vehicles over the years – how about a revived 124, 131 or X-19? Personally, I’d love to see the much praised Panda come over, complete with the TwinAir turbocharged two-cylinder engine. But it ain’t gonna happen.

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High Gas Prices Mean Happy Days For Honda Civic http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/high-gas-prices-mean-happy-days-for-honda-civic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/high-gas-prices-mean-happy-days-for-honda-civic/#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2012 21:17:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=434873 Pop quiz; what do increased production, lots of cash on the hood and high gas prices mean for Honda dealers? Lots of Civics moving out the door. Civic sales are up 45 percent in the first two months of this year, and the model is outselling former top dogs like the Chevrolet Cruze and last […]

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Pop quiz; what do increased production, lots of cash on the hood and high gas prices mean for Honda dealers? Lots of Civics moving out the door.

Civic sales are up 45 percent in the first two months of this year, and the model is outselling former top dogs like the Chevrolet Cruze and last year’s compact champion the Toyota Corolla. Honda’s supply chain woes are over (something they were stung by last year) and production is up by 69 percent.

High gas prices are helping the Civic, which is seen as a solid choice in a segment full of fuel-efficient cars. While gas prices may level out this summer, the Civic is set to get a very early refresh in time for the 2013 model year. Add to that strong incentives to help move the 2012 model (one source told us that there was as much as $1,900 per car in incentives for the Civic) and Honda is looking strong in the compact segment – maybe even regaining the small car sales crown, something it hasn’t held since 2002.

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Finally, Real Pictures Of The Volvo V40 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/finally-real-pictures-of-the-volvo-v40/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/finally-real-pictures-of-the-volvo-v40/#comments Mon, 27 Feb 2012 17:21:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=432925 Today is Wagon Day, a brand-new made up holiday when North Americans are tortured with photos of wagons that will not be available to us despite our endless pleas. First up, the Volvo V40. Reports are stating that a 1.6L 4-cylinder will be present in the V40, but Volvo’s new modular engine family, with its […]

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Today is Wagon Day, a brand-new made up holiday when North Americans are tortured with photos of wagons that will not be available to us despite our endless pleas. First up, the Volvo V40.

Reports are stating that a 1.6L 4-cylinder will be present in the V40, but Volvo’s new modular engine family, with its 500cc per cylinder capacity, would suggest a 2.0L mill instead. We’ll find out for sure once the car is unveiled at the Geneva Auto Show. Since the C30 was such a spectacular sales flop in the United Sates, don’t look for this to make its way over here.

2013 Volvo V40. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2013-volvo-v40-12 2013-volvo-v40-11 2013-volvo-v40-13 2013-volvo-v40-14 2013-volvo-v40-15 2013-volvo-v40-10 2013-volvo-v40-9 2013-volvo-v40-8 2013-volvo-v40-7 2013-volvo-v40-6 2013-volvo-v40-5 2013-volvo-v40-4 2013-volvo-v40-3 2013-volvo-v40-2 2013-volvo-v40-1 2013-volvo-v40-16

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Kia Procee’ds With New Cee’d. Puns Are Not Our Forte. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/kia-proceeds-with-new-ceed-puns-are-not-our-forte/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/kia-proceeds-with-new-ceed-puns-are-not-our-forte/#comments Wed, 15 Feb 2012 22:04:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=431045 The new Kia Cee’d may have a stupid name, but everything else about the car looks pretty attractive. Well, maybe not the grille. They also refrained from releasing any specs at all alongside these photos, so you’ll have to wait until March’s Auto Show to get the scoop. The Forte is a little dated by […]

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The new Kia Cee’d may have a stupid name, but everything else about the car looks pretty attractive. Well, maybe not the grille. They also refrained from releasing any specs at all alongside these photos, so you’ll have to wait until March’s Auto Show to get the scoop. The Forte is a little dated by now, to the point where it’s hard to justify buying one over a Rio, let alone an Elantra – how about it, Kia?

Press release and gallery below

 

012012kiaceedoff Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail 2013 Kia Cee'd. Photo courtesy Kia. 022012kiaceedoff 032012kiaceedoff 042012kiaceedoff

 

 

 

(15/02/12) — Kia’s all-European cee’d stunned audiences when it was revealed at the Geneva Motor Show just six years ago and at Geneva this year the all-new version is set to repeat that feat thanks to its elegant lines – heralding an even more successful future for the company’s bed-rock C-segment model.

Combining dynamic, sophisticated styling with maturity and prestige, the all-new cee’d five-door hatchback the new cee’d is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, with the same long wheelbase. The elegant simplicity of its coupe-like proportions is emphasised by a steeply raked A-pillar, a very low belt-line in the front and lengthened side windows.

The front of the new cee’d is dominated by the latest interpretation of Kia’s trademark ‘tiger-nose’ grille and aggressive, wraparound headlamp clusters housing signature LED daytime running lights.

Wide track and solid stance
In profile the pronounced front and rear wings emphasise the car’s wide track and solid stance whilst above the taut, strongly sculpted door surfaces, the steeply raked A-pillar, sweeping roofline and integral rear spoiler accentuate the sporting aesthetics of the new model’s generous glasshouse.

The entire exterior is accented by numerous small yet highly significant detail touches which add to the prestige and premium feel of the new cee’d without detracting from the purity and elegance of the overall design.

These include a new, bolder, more sophisticated Kia badge, the indicator blade protrusion in the front headlamps, the Kia-signature windscreen head castellations, the chrome side glazing surround and the cee’d-unique, aerodynamic shaping of the tail lamp which extends into the adjacent bodywork.

New premium interior
The new cee’d features a completely new interior hallmarked by a more premium look and feel, higher perceived quality, improved switchgear, touch-screen technology and enhanced driving position ergonomics.

The dashboard layout features a cockpit-like design with an aircraft-themed, driver-oriented fascia. The main control panel wraps around the steering wheel, placing all switchgear within easy reach of the driver, and the main control groups such as audio and air-conditioning have been segregated to bring a more premium, luxurious, big car feel to the interior.

Carefully considered precision detailing gives the cabin a more prestigious look and feel than that of the current generation model. Soft touch materials add a new tactility to the driving environment. Instruments and switchgear are picked out in very thin chrome, the door handles are built up in a layered sandwich of high quality materials and the door opener itself has a sculpted, one-piece, shell-like quality reflecting the premium values of the new interior design.

 

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A Prius c By Any Other Name Is A Yaris Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/a-prius-c-by-any-other-name-is-a-yaris-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/a-prius-c-by-any-other-name-is-a-yaris-hybrid/#comments Mon, 23 Jan 2012 16:49:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=427816 Toyota is launching a hybrid version of the Yaris, and will likely be the European substitute for the Prius c/Aqua that Bertel drove just last week. Previewed in concept form last year, the Yaris Hybrid will be built in France and have the exact same drivetrain as the Prius c. Fuel economy should be about […]

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Toyota is launching a hybrid version of the Yaris, and will likely be the European substitute for the Prius c/Aqua that Bertel drove just last week.

Previewed in concept form last year, the Yaris Hybrid will be built in France and have the exact same drivetrain as the Prius c. Fuel economy should be about the same as well. Since the Yaris Hybrid is far too close to the Prius c (without any of the brand equity), look for it to remain unavailable to American consumers.

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Fiat Outsells Mini, Scion In Canada http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/fiat-outsells-mini-scion-in-canada/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/01/fiat-outsells-mini-scion-in-canada/#comments Thu, 05 Jan 2012 18:09:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=424503 Canadians already bought the Honda Civic in droves, so it would make sense that another unloved car, the Fiat 500, would do well in a country that favors smaller, more European vehicles, right? Sort of. Fiat did outsell both MINI and Scion in Canada this past year, but not by much. Accordingly to analyst Timothy […]

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Canadians already bought the Honda Civic in droves, so it would make sense that another unloved car, the Fiat 500, would do well in a country that favors smaller, more European vehicles, right? Sort of.

Fiat did outsell both MINI and Scion in Canada this past year, but not by much. Accordingly to analyst Timothy Cain, Fiat ranked 27th out of 34 brands on sale in Canada, selling 5392 units. MINI was 28th with 5155 units and Scion was 29th with 4720 units.

The Fiat 500 is a common sight on the streets of Toronto, where being chic goes a long way. Despite the 500 selling in small volumes, the Dodge/Ram brand had a great showing in Canada overall, finishing behind Ford in second place (though Ford outsold Dodge/Ram by 100,152 units). Chrysler and Jeep sales were counted separately.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: A Mini’s Progress Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-a-minis-progress-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/12/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-a-minis-progress-edition/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2011 15:05:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=422923 My two weeks in Europe has drawn to a close, and I’m back at my familiar desk, in front of my familiar computer, catching up on all the automotive happenings I missed, contemplating my transition out of TTAC’s day-to-day leadership, and reflecting on all I saw over my whirlwind two weeks. And though you haven’t […]

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My two weeks in Europe has drawn to a close, and I’m back at my familiar desk, in front of my familiar computer, catching up on all the automotive happenings I missed, contemplating my transition out of TTAC’s day-to-day leadership, and reflecting on all I saw over my whirlwind two weeks. And though you haven’t heard from me much in the last two weeks, rest assured that I have  not forgotten TTAC, nor have I missed any opportunities to accumulate impressions from the automotive landscape of modern Europe.

This week I will publish two reviews of the automobiles I drove over the last two weeks, and though neither of these cars are available in the US, I believe they both hold fascinating lessons that are highly applicable and relevant to both the US market and the global auto business. But in the meantime I thought I’d share this picture, which would be near impossible to take in the US, and which speaks volumes about the evolution of small cars. Just blocks from Paris’s Place de la Concorde, in front of Chanel’s flagship Parisian boutique, I was able to capture a classic and modern Mini, with a Smart ForTwo sandwiched in between for scale.

I’ll leave commentary on this image to TTAC’s Best and Brightest, but I will say that the tableau stopped me in my tracks. Though I’ve always loved the classic Mini, and I have only the deepest admiration for those who keep these wonderful cars in daily use, this image confirms just how much our automotive expectations have changed. If you think a Smart makes undue compromises in the pursuit of its city-friendly size, imagine what an original Mini must be like in today’s traffic….

 

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Chart Of The Day: Subcompacts In July And Year To Date http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chart-of-the-day-subcompacts-in-july-and-year-to-date/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chart-of-the-day-subcompacts-in-july-and-year-to-date/#comments Mon, 15 Aug 2011 22:34:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=407332 In contrast to rapid changes in the compact and midsized segments, the subcompact segment is moving along established trendlines. Kia’s Soul has completely overtaken this segment’s previous champ, but that’s been a long time coming. A new Accent is arriving at dealers, and that model’s starting to take off… in fact, if there’s news here, […]

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In contrast to rapid changes in the compact and midsized segments, the subcompact segment is moving along established trendlines. Kia’s Soul has completely overtaken this segment’s previous champ, but that’s been a long time coming. A new Accent is arriving at dealers, and that model’s starting to take off… in fact, if there’s news here, it’s that the Accent appears to be outselling the segment’s next-freshest offering, the Ford Fiesta. Otherwise, Aveo and Rio are dropping off ahead of their replacement by new models, the 500 is getting closer to MINI’s monthly volume, and Mazda2 can’t quite get past the Cube The YTD chart doesn’t show too many changes either… but watch this space as the A/B segment heats up with new models later this year.

graph (29) Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail No news is still news...

 

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Tata Gives Suzuki Headaches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/tata-gives-suzuki-headaches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/tata-gives-suzuki-headaches/#comments Tue, 31 Aug 2010 15:05:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=364294 Suzuki has a little bit of a problem keeping up with the demand in the frisky Indian market. If you can’t deliver, you lose market share. Suzuki’s share of the Indian market already slipped below their usual 50 percent. And guess who’s giving Suzuki headaches? Tata. When Suzuki CEO Osamu Suzuki returned to Japan from […]

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Suzuki has a little bit of a problem keeping up with the demand in the frisky Indian market. If you can’t deliver, you lose market share. Suzuki’s share of the Indian market already slipped below their usual 50 percent. And guess who’s giving Suzuki headaches? Tata.

When Suzuki CEO Osamu Suzuki returned to Japan from India in September 2009, he said the Nano is “one fine vehicle.” Thankfully, that wasn’t quite the case.

The Nano is a hot item in India. It has a tendency to go up in flames. On August 27, another Nano caught fire in New Delhi – “at least the sixth such incident involving the model,” says The Nikkei [sub]. But it doesn’t stop people from buying.

Between April and June, Tata sold 84,000 cars in India, up 49.4 percent from the same quarter of last year. They even bypassed Hyundai. Tata has lly finished their Nano factory, and they are cranking them out to meet with pent-up demand for an affordable car.

84,000 units from Tata are not anywhere close to the 384,181 cars Suzuki sold in the April to July period. But Suzuki is taking note. Tata has a car that costs half of the price of  Suzuki’s cheapest model, the Alto. Tata has a brand-new factory, Suzuki may have a new factory by 2012.

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TV Show Investor Rescues Peel, Makers Of The World’s Smallest Car http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/ultra-conservative-actor-james-caan-rescues-peel-makers-of-the-worlds-smallest-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/ultra-conservative-actor-james-caan-rescues-peel-makers-of-the-worlds-smallest-car/#comments Fri, 20 Aug 2010 16:25:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=363382 Thanks to one of the most popular Top Gear segments ever, the Peel P50 is now well-established in the minds and imaginations of the world’s automotive cognoscenti. After all, how often does Clarkson say that “if [car X] had a reverse gear, I would describe it as the absolute ultimate in personal mobility”? But now […]

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Thanks to one of the most popular Top Gear segments ever, the Peel P50 is now well-established in the minds and imaginations of the world’s automotive cognoscenti. After all, how often does Clarkson say that “if [car X] had a reverse gear, I would describe it as the absolute ultimate in personal mobility”? But now there’s another reason to pay attention to Peel: having been bought a few years back by Gary Hillman and Faizal Khan, the British microcar maker is set for a comeback that’s being funded by Sonny Coreleone himself, actor some British investor named James Caan (born Nazim Khan… cheers to colin42 for the British pop culture lesson, and apologies for unwittingly making the story better than it is).

For about $125k, Caan has bought 30 percent of Peel (as well as one P50 and one Trident), as part of the BBC show “The Dragon’s Den,” in which entrepreneurs vie for startup money. Peel is building about 50 electric-powered cars per year, and is seeking to expand the brand into non-automotive merchandise. Why would Caan invest in the world’s smallest cars?

When investing I often look for things that are a little bit different. Rare opportunities can surprise you and add fun to the process. As a British made product, Peel encompasses traditional values and manufacturing.

Not only will there be plenty people who want to own a piece of history by having a Peel but the brand is ideally placed to expand into a larger product range.

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June Sales: Subcompacts And Small Hatches http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/june-sales-subcompacts-and-small-hatches/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/june-sales-subcompacts-and-small-hatches/#comments Thu, 08 Jul 2010 15:50:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360538 Kia’s Soul didn’t have the most electrifying launch sales-wise, but with the release of its second buzz-worthy ad, the funky little box is becoming a major player in our A/B/Small Hatch segment. The Nissan Versa is clearly the dominant player here, selling nearly twice as well as the Soul. Meanwhile, there’s a tight pack of […]

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Kia’s Soul didn’t have the most electrifying launch sales-wise, but with the release of its second buzz-worthy ad, the funky little box is becoming a major player in our A/B/Small Hatch segment. The Nissan Versa is clearly the dominant player here, selling nearly twice as well as the Soul. Meanwhile, there’s a tight pack of offerings that have moved at least 20k units this year, that ranges from the aged HHR to the MINI Cooper. Look for a big shake-up in this segment once Ford’s Fiesta production hits high gear.

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Kawaii! Mitsubishi And PSA To Make Babies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/kawaii-mitsubishi-and-psa-to-make-babies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/kawaii-mitsubishi-and-psa-to-make-babies/#comments Sun, 06 Jun 2010 07:03:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=358259 After on-again and off-again attempts at an Eurasian marriage (which I would unreservedly endorse,) Mitsubishi and PSA are doing the thing currently en vogue in Europe: Live happily in sin, and produce little ones. Very little ones. Mitsubishi Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen Group are chatting about small cars produced by Mitsubishi for the unmarried […]

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After on-again and off-again attempts at an Eurasian marriage (which I would unreservedly endorse,) Mitsubishi and PSA are doing the thing currently en vogue in Europe: Live happily in sin, and produce little ones. Very little ones.

Mitsubishi Motors and PSA Peugeot Citroen Group are chatting about small cars produced by Mitsubishi for the unmarried couple, says The Nikkei [sub]. Details should be hashed-out by the end of the year.

The cars would be 1.0-1.3 liter midgetmobiles, which Mitsubishi wants to unleash onto rapidly emerging markets. Mitsu will start making them in Thailand this year, then the idea is to expand mass production to the usual suspects: China, India and Brazil. Annual production target 400,000 to 500,000 units. Mitsubishi wants to keep the price below $10,000.

Of course, they are eyeing the Japanese and European market as well, and this is where PSA comes in. PSA would sell the motorized rug rats under the Peugeot and Citroen brands in Europe and elsewhere.

This deal expands on existing cohabitations with electric cars and SUVs

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India: Toyota Launches Small Car Into Huge Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/india-toyota-launches-small-car-into-huge-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/06/india-toyota-launches-small-car-into-huge-market/#comments Fri, 04 Jun 2010 13:41:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=358099 Woken up by the Tata Nano warning shot (which so far seems to be a dud), everybody agrees that the key to making India “the next China” is to start small. Why does Suzuki own more than half of India’s market? Small cars.  And motorcycles. Another key to emerging markets is to give people an […]

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Woken up by the Tata Nano warning shot (which so far seems to be a dud), everybody agrees that the key to making India “the next China” is to start small. Why does Suzuki own more than half of India’s market? Small cars.  And motorcycles. Another key to emerging markets is to give people an easy upgrade path from two wheels to four wheels. Remember how BMW got started? Remember that the initial business plan for the Volkswagen was to offer citizens of the Third Reich a car for the price of a motor cycle?

No wonder manufacturers are scouring their line-up for cars small enough for the huge Indian market. About 10 small cars are said to pour into the Indian market this year, and that’s just the advance guard. Toyota joins the fray, not just with a small car, but with a big factory in the southern state of Karnataka.

“We will start production of the small car once the second plant is completed,” said Hiroshi Nakagawa, managing director at Toyota Kirloskar Motor Pvt. Ltd., told The Nikkei [sub].”The plant will be completed by December.”

Toyota has big plans for the Indian critter. The second plant will have an initial production capacity of 70,000 cars, which will be increased to 200,000 cars in phases.

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