By on April 8, 2014

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America’s large car category shed more than 18,000 sales in the first quarter of 2014 as new entities weren’t able to add enough sales to overcome the declines of established players.

The Nissan Maxima was the only volume-brand big car to record more sales in the first one-quarter of 2014 than during the first three months of 2013. In March, the Dodge Charger was the only volume-brand big car to generate a year-over-year sales increase.

March large car sales were down 5%, a loss of just under 3000 units.

Buick has posted only two months of improved LaCrosse sales in the United States in the last year. LaCrosse volume decreased in 2011 and 2012, then fell 17% in 2013 and is down 15% in 2014. Improved Regal sales over the last six months have softened the blow, but the Regal remains the lowest-volume Buick.

Elsewhere at GM, the desire to reposition the Impala upmarket has resulted in an anticipated sales decline. The Impala range continues to be one of America’s best-selling car lines: it ranks 15th among passenger cars year-to-date, down from 12th in Q1 2013. In a market where car sales have fallen 4% in 2014, GM’s car division is up 3% and Chevrolet car sales are up 6% (and 13% in March).

The Cruze’s 17% Q1 boost and the Corvette’s extra 5238 extra sales have carried the bulk of that increase. The SS, a car we knew was headed for niche status in its quest to steal sales from SRT Chryslers and Dodges, plays in the high-priced corner of this arena. Only 1283 have been sold since its introduction in the fall.

Chrysler and Dodge have combined to own 28.5% of the category’s early 2014 sales, up slightly from the 27.8% they achieved a year ago despite their decreased volume. Passenger car sales in Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat showrooms are down 20% this year as the Avenger dies off, the 200 awaits replacement, the Dart slides 30%, and the 300 and Charger suffer from the same affliction that is besetting other big cars.

Ford is kind enough to fill us in on specific Taurus Police Interceptor sales data. 887 of the 6576 Tauruses sold in the U.S. in March were not intended for civilians; 2285 of the 14,594 year-to-date. The Explorer Police Interceptor has generated 1415 more sales than its sedan counterpart so far this year. Sales of the conventional Taurus are down 28% to 12,309 units in 2014, less than what the Impala range managed in March alone. (Chevrolet has also sold 769 Caprice PPVs in 2014, up from 679 a year ago.)

Kia’s Cadenza has outsold the Hyundai Azera by 491 units since the Kia went on sale in April 2013. On four occasions between June and October of last year Kia managed to top 1000 units, selling more than 3300 Cadenzas in July and August combined. On admittedly subjective grounds, we’ve left the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, Kia K900, and Lexus ES off this list because of their premium standing. It’s arguable, and you will argue. But for the record, total Genesis sales were down 31% to 2170 units in March (down 35% to 5236 in Q1) in the lead-up to the replacement of the sedan’s portion of the lineup. Hyundai also sold 331 Equus luxo-barges and Kia sold its first 105 K900s. The ES was down by just 14 units to 6784 in March but is down 10% to 15,103 sales year-to-date.

Speaking of the Camry’s Lexus sibling, the latest Avalon got off to a rip-roaring start in December 2012, but those massive year-over-year increases were bound to come to an end. The bad news? Toyota isn’t selling as many Avalons this year as they did last year. The good news? Toyota should easily sell more than 50,000 Avalons this year, having sold an average of 31,000 Avalons per year between 2008 and 2012.

Nissan is having no problem selling more of their handsomely priced Maximas in 2014. But the year-over-year comparison only tells part of the story, as Maxima volume had fallen 9% to a four-year low in 2013, and Q1 2014 sales are actually down 17% compared with the first quarter of 2012. The Maxima’s replacement was foreshadowed by the Detroit auto show’s Sport Sedan Concept.

Passenger cars account for a smaller portion of the auto industry’s output this year than last. And after bringing in 7.9% of 2013’s first quarter car sales, these large cars are responsible for just 7.2% of America’s car market in 2014.

Auto
March
2014
March
2013
%
Change
3 mos.
2014
3 mos.
2013
%
Change
Buick LaCrosse
3550 4157 – 14.6% 10,522 11,372 – 7.5%
Chevrolet Impala
12,952 14,766 – 12.3% 36,858 44,343 – 16.9%
Chevrolet SS
350 865
Chrysler 300
5367 5686 – 5.6% 13,000 16,034 – 18.9%
Dodge Charger
10,816 9386 + 15.2% 24,956 26,098 – 4.4%
Ford Taurus
6576 7929 – 17.1% 14,594 19,442 – 24.9%
Hyundai Azera
760 1117 – 32.0% 2118 2709 – 21.8%
Kia Cadenza
868 2495
Nissan Maxima
6008 6088 – 1.3% 14,461 14,007 + 3.2%
Toyota Avalon
5946 6982 – 14.8% 13,295 17,525 – 24.1%
Total
53,193
56,111 – 5.2% 133,164 151,530 – 12.1%
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106 Comments on “Cain’s Segments: Large Cars...”


  • avatar

    I’m 6’6 and I need a large car that looks good.
    Chrysler has made me very happy.

    It’s a shame they aren’t making the MAGNUM because right now, you wouldn’t be able to ask for a wagon with a better combination of tech, engine choices, capacity, comfort or style.

    I’ll be at NY Auto Show this coming weekend to see the refreshed Charger/ Challenger.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Good think you HAVE the THREE HUNDRED.

    • 0 avatar
      raresleeper

      You know, you’re right, BT.

      Nothin’ says style like a loooong turd of wagon with the aesthetics of a plastic Lego.

      All’s you need now are your “Lambo” Doors, your 26″ wheels (painted, of course, to match the turd), and your “Transformers” Logo Stickers.

      “Stylin’ and profilin’, my man.”

      I didn’t take you for a donk man.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Lol! The Magnum has fallen to sub-Galant levels in terms of quality of secondary/tertiary/quad owners.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          …probably because the E-Z credit first owner never maintained it as he did smoky burnout after smoky burnout…

          (Seriously, check You Tube if you don’t believe me – there are SCORES of people doing videos of themselves doing burnouts in Magnums, and not all are SRT8s)

        • 0 avatar
          darkwing

          Come now — were the original owners really that much better?

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @raresleeper

        I’m guessing you haven’t been in a Chrysler vehicle…. in the past 10 years, huh?

        Chrysler’s current stuff, especially the 300 and Charger, are really good, especially for the money.

        • 0 avatar
          Timtoolman

          He’s trolling. I expected so much more from Daimler and got a lot of disappointment. Their cost-cutting had Tupperware interiors in my friend’s Ram, and the Caliber was just plain wrong. Since Fiat took control, the interiors have improved immensely. Their tweaks to the world engine make the 2.4 a pretty nice motor. I see no reason why they couldn’t easily make a 300 wagon, which I believe is better-looking than the Magnum, anyway. Looking forward to the big reveal next week.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      If you’re going to an auto show this coming weekend, you’re gonna be in Denver, dude…I’ll see you there!

      • 0 avatar

        #1 STOP HATING ON THE MAGNUM.
        The Magnum is nothing more than a Charger with a 3rd row window (perhaps they should consider an optional jump seat like Tesla?) but now Chrysler has 3 great Engine choices and a diesel for the Europeans – the BEST infotainment on the market and an excellent highway cruising feel.

        #2 I made an hour long video from TUNE TIME PERFORMANCE’s show in NJ this weekend. I’ll be at the NYIAS at Jacob Javits this weekend.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      Magnum- Meh. what WE NEED is a BUICK ROADMASTER wagon!

      More plush, rear- folding seats, plus 5000# towing capacity. Oh yeah!

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I love Cain’s Segments! LOVE!!!

    The only model treading water is the Chrysler 300. One can point to the growth in the Dodge Charger but report after report after report shows it is a basement subprime buyer sweetheart – so there are some unnatural acts going on to keep those volumes up.

    I suspect that the majority of those Impala sales are the ye-old W-Bodies going to rental fleet and not the vastly improved new one. It is my understanding that GM is not breaking the numbers out (someone might have it)

    Surprised the Maxima and Taurus sell as well as they do. Does that Taurus number include police duty units?

    At 857 units sold in the first quarter, the Chevrolet SS should easily hit its goal of 3K to 5K units sold in 2014. Sales in theory should lift now that the nation is thawing out (literally). Rear-wheel only V8 powered only summer tires only sleds don’t exactly sell well in Jan – Mar.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    This is obviously a result of the turkey tax and a vast conspiracy that includes collusion among forces of the underworld, government regulators and unions (which is being redundant, I know.)

    This could be fixed with diesel engines, of course. If only the auto industry knew something about cars.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Does “Impala” refer only to the new Impala or is GM still selling the “classic” Impala and those sales are included here?

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I thought Buick was to be considered a “premium” marque, and thus should not be included on this list. Right? Who makes the determination there?

    • 0 avatar
      Mandalorian

      If Buick REALLY wanted to be a premium marque, the would make leather seats STANDARD on ALL VEHICLES. There is no way I would pay $35k for a car with cloth seats.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It’s funny – after I typed my comment I thought, “Hmm I wonder if the LaCrosse comes standard with leather.” so I went on their website to check. Nope it doesn’t. That pretty much means it’s not luxury.

        But is that cloth any worse than the vinyl MB or BMW gives you as standard? I’m thinking you might be able to get cloth in some BMW’s still, as well.

        • 0 avatar
          hubcap

          You can get a cloth/leather combo seat standard on the new M3. I don’t know why leather is seen as a must have? A well done cloth, cloth/leather/suede combo is fine by me.

          What matters, at least in my opinion, is fitment and materials. Going back to that M3, I’d have no problem choosing the cloth/leather combo. Bonus points if the inserts come in exterior colors (sakhir orange for me!)

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            It’s a simple case of selective exclusionary categorization, i.e., I don’t want “x” in my group, so I invent a definition specifically to exclude it. It’s the classic us v. them, because once it is excluded, it becomes a part of “them,” and we feel better about not liking it.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Strange – seems leather isn’t standard on certain Mercedes and BMW models. Well high grade vinyl can be had in a 320i – somehow I guess that’s better than cloth.

        (strange what people fixate on to define luxury)

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Leather is not standard for most luxury makes.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Which I have always found puzzling. Should be standard and credit offered if the owner desires it to be deleted.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            There are high grade cloths that cost far more than mid-grade leather, or “leather seating surfaces” with glorified vinyl surrounds.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        @Mandalorian

        I have no idea why the $40,000 Buick Enclave doesn’t have heather leather seats and proximity entry, standard.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say they’re in the right spot.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        APaGttH- this isn’t the Queen’s Bentley, it’s GM. Using the same cloth on a $35k premium car as on a 2001 Impala is embarassing.

        Why is this being compared to the M3? The two cars serve VERY different purposes.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Bummer about the Lacrosse given its refresh. Really nice car.

  • avatar
    LALoser

    Someone named a car Credenza? That’s stoopid…oh, nevermind.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    I think the bottom line on the decline of this segment is that people no longer have enough money.

    Those Impala numbers actually sound pretty tepid if they include the old car (which I’m sure is still being given away en masse to fleets). Given that the LaCrosse is the same car aimed at the same audience for more money, I’d think the new Epsilon II Impala is already starting to cannibailze its sales.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      I think it’s more that people who prefer large CARS are getting older, while younger buyers who want a large vehicle prefer to buy a truck/SUV/crossover. Younger buyers who want a car are choosing something smaller. Unless you must have rear-wheel-drive – in which case you’d buy the Chevrolet SS, Dodge Charger or Chrysler 300 – an Accord or Fusion offers most of the room and features of the bigger vehicle for less money.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        I know that’s the conventional wisdom, geeber, but then there’s this…

        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/generation-why-deloitte-study-shows-that-money-not-ideology-is-the-biggest-obstacle-to-car-ownership/

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          The thing is that if people are abandoning large cars for trucks/SUVs/crossovers, they aren’t doing it to save money.

          As for people buying smaller cars – why buy a car that is more expensive than a smaller, more manageable car that can do virtually everything that the large car does?

          In some cases, the smaller car is actually BETTER than the larger car. The Ford Fusion, for example, has a much better interior layout and overall feeling of roominess compared to the Ford Taurus.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            “The thing is that if people are abandoning large cars for trucks/SUVs/crossovers, they aren’t doing it to save money.”

            What proof do you have that trucks/SUVs/crossovers are always being chosen over the alternative of a large car?

            And in some cases, the larger car is blatantly better. Do you think most Camry buyers would rather not have an Avalon?

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Through the first three months of 2014, sales of cars were down slightly compared to last year. Sales of all cars were down 3.6 percent.

            Sales of large cars were actually quite strong – they were up 12.6 percent over last year at this time.

            Sales of midsized cars, meanwhile, were DOWN 7.3 percent.

            Sales of all light-duty trucks, which includes minivans, pickups, SUVs and crossovers, were up 6.7 percent.

            Based on those figures, it appears to me that the problem isn’t so much a “lack of money” as it is an increasing preference for trucks over cars.

          • 0 avatar
            tonycd

            geeber, I commend you for going to the trouble to look up those numbers. Fact-based discussions are always better.

            Although… if large cars and trucks/SUVs are both up while midsize cars are down, doesn’t it make more sense to conclude people are increasingly choosing large cars and trucks/SUVs over midsize cars, rather than midsize truck/SUVs over large cars? (Even though it flies in the face of my money hypothesis.)

          • 0 avatar
            geeber

            Tony, thank you. Yes, I was surprised that mid-size cars were down while larger cars were up. So I guess both us weren’t quite correct, at least for the first three months of this year.

            Going by anecdotal evidence, it seems as though everyone we know is swapping their car for a crossover (generally a smaller one, on the order of the Escape or CR-V). Perhaps my fear of this happening to me – my wife wants one, while I want either an Accord or a Fusion – is coloring my perception of market trends! At least we can’t afford an Expedition or Tahoe.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      It isn’t just the affordability. Unless you lives in a rural area or outer burbs parking is getting painful, families are getting smaller, there are more single people in this country than ever before. If people want a large family hauler, they’re buying SUVs.

      It’s a dying segment.

  • avatar
    raresleeper

    Wow.

    Didn’t realize so many of our fellow Americans were soppin’ up those Maximas with biscuits.

    Beats the hell out of me.

    I still wouldn’t mind an older, loaded Avalon to run the piss out of for the next 10 years or so. Hell, I’d even take it with the infamous “beige on beige” color combo.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Hope Nissan enjoys those Maxima sales while they can. Seeing the apparent next Maxima on the auto show circuit, they won’t be selling many more.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t get the sudden jump, as it’s been unchanged for a few years now. Though they did glue on some LED’s in there somewhere. Why not Altima for a larger, less expensive, same features car!?

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Maxima’s got nicer interior bits, V6 standard, arguably sportier styling, and obviously big discounts.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Not that the Maxima is a stellar product, but they really don’t drive the same at all. The Altima is roomy and unbelievably efficient, but it has the refinement of a $500 washer. Tinny, loud, bumpy, and poorly put together. The Maxima feels far more cohesive and better built, although it’s still let down a bit by middling suspension tuning. As far as I can tell the Maxima is an Altima with more power and without a lot of the unpleasant cost-cutting.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          That’s a good point about the driving dynamics. I have been in an 09 Maxima a couple times and wasn’t impressed with the interior, but the ride was alright.

          I have not been in any current-ish Altima.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Somehow I’ve been getting a lot of both as rentals lately. I guess Nissan needed to pad their 2013-end numbers.

            I kind of like the Altimas because I know they’ll give me 30 mpg no matter how badly I abuse them, but the Maxima really is a much nicer driver.

        • 0 avatar
          340-4

          I owned a 2012 Maxima for a year. Horrible seats. Traded it for a 2013 Altima.

          Less than a year later I bought a 2014 Charger.

          Nissan is headed downhill. Dodge is headed uphill.

          I agree with your thoughts on the Nissans. The Maxima was a better car but caused me physical pain. The Altima is just cheap. Powerful, fast, and cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I thought the same thing on the Maximas.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    For the price of one of these plain large barges, you can have any number of nicer entry level luxury cars. The people who buy sedans by the pound are literally dying off.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Have a Charger and love it! Was way better than the 2013 and wife likes is better. She’s had 2 Accords prior. Nothing beats that sounds of a V8, bold looks and spacious with awesome tech. Definitely more SMG (Smiles per gallon) than most sedans I’ve driven.

  • avatar
    fredtal

    SUVs are killing cars.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d say they’re killing big ones.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      In a time of $3.59/gal 87 octane gas nationally on avg, and up to $4.29 on the West Coast, now more than ever do we need heavy and inefficient AWD and 4×4 SUVs for the masses.

      http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com/?redirectto=http://fuelgaugereport.opisnet.com/index.asp

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        On the other hand, corrected for inflation, gas is the same price as it was in 2006, and 1980.

        http://www.randomuseless.info/gasprice/gasprice.html

        Interestingly, the gas guzzler tax doesn’t apply to most of the vehicles you mention.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Gasoline in 2006 and 1980 was outrageous to people who remembered the 1960s to early ’70s and 30 cent gas. Another point is that a lot of these marvelous engines run on premium, so even the prices 28-cars-later cites are a little low for many models. V-6 engines that run on regular are getting hard to find.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            And the price of gas is largely irrelevant to those who can afford $30k+ new cars. Folks may pay lip service to fuel economy, but it really is not a high priority for most. Personally, even $10+ European prices didn’t phase me much when I was there. You get used to price increases very quickly. I appreciate efficiency for its own sake, but my wallet doesn’t really care.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I disagree. This logic might apply to niche vehicles, but when nearly every midsize weighs in somewhere in the mid 20s range to start fuel economy does matter because most people cannot afford the cars as it is. There is a reason for 84+ month financing, do you really think the avg American can actually afford their lifestyle?

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            The novelty of spending 180 bucks a month on gas has long since worn off for yuppie blogger types who make that much before lunch.

            Denizens of the domestic lots, not so much.

          • 0 avatar
            matador

            +1 on Premium fuel. I run 85.5 in my Audi A6, and it’s happy enough with it. But, if you went by the book, everything should get 92. Even my 1995 LeSabre recommends premium fuel.

            Will it ever get Premium? Nope. Will it work fine? Yep.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I can’t speak for 1980, but I do remember 2006. Have wages increased or decreased in real terms since then?

          Your second point is also interesting… guzzler tax the S/CUVs…

  • avatar
    George B

    I blame the Hi-Riser (donk, box, bubble) enormous wheel ghetto cruiser phenomenon for helping kill the large car segment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hi-Riser_%28automobile%29 Disproportionally big wheels seem to be the final indignity for panthers, Impalas, and 300s. Women also seem to have a strong preference for the high seating position of CUVs patterned after the Lexus RX. When a woman has a say in the car purchase, the large car loses out to the CUV.

  • avatar
    bd2

    Avalon sales are down a bit but it was going to be difficult for Toyota to continue the sales pace with new competition like the Impala (the new Impala probably being the best in class), but despite the drop, it still sells well and doesn’t have the discounting and fleet sales as does the Maxima (but the Nissan is on its last legs and the fact that it’s still selling this well is pretty impressive).

    Would love to see a breakdown btwn the new Impala and the Impala Classic.

    The Azera and Cadenza really need the hybrid versions which recently launched in Korea – a hybrid version will probably get both of them to sell regularly over the 1k mark.

  • avatar
    86er

    By and large, the automakers see no point in building large cars, for reasons external and internal. Their “mid-size” cars have grown, they make way more money off trucks and sport-utilities (car and truck-based) and the SUV craze realigned people’s priorities, caring to sit from a higher perch.

    So they don’t bother to build “large” cars that are measurably larger than their mid-size offerings and consumers rarely discern between the two, and so for reasons like that, we have this.

  • avatar
    kkop

    Thank you Chrysler, for making sedans for normal-sized people :-)

    I love the styling, ride and especially interior room in the Charger. In comparison, the Maxima is a cramped vehicle, with a very strange styling – bulbous fenders that make it look like a much larger car than it is inside. One thing I did like very much in the Maxima was the extendable thigh support; what a great feature, especially for tall drivers.

    I suspect the next generation of Chrysler large sedans (if there are going to be any) will be Fiat/Alfa-sized. Say what you will about Daimler’s ownership of Chrysler, they left them with a great platform for large cars.

    • 0 avatar
      340-4

      I concur. I owned a ’12 Maxima and now a ’14 Charger.

      It’s refreshing to have a car that ‘feels right’. Whether going down the road, or simply reaching for a control, this car feels right. Somebody in the design process cared and paid attention. Want to see awful?

      Go drive a new Altima. Hard choppy ride, crashy, and cheap. And the controls are poorly placed and non intuitive.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I just wish the 300s didn’t weigh 4300-4500 lbs. depending on trim. They ride really well, but they don’t handle right, and I think the weight is the main reason why. My 3950-lb. G8 is much more satisfying to drive than the LX cars on any road that isn’t dead straight.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I love my 2012 Charger so much that I will likely trade it for another one if I like the upcoming refresh. Good looking, quiet, roomy and relatively well screwed together.

    For grins, I did an internet search for the new SS for sale this past weekend. There is a white one available in my town with $4k on the hood. Sure, you can get anywhere from 5-7k off sticker on a Charger but it’s not a limited run model.

    For the record, I am neither “sub” nor “prime.” Far from it!

  • avatar
    oldowl

    Soon to the market: the Breakfront with mahogany and beveled glass and bronze control knobs.

  • avatar
    Kaosaur

    The Cruze is the hot new car for subprime buyers. Gosh is that car uncomfortably small though…for any more than 3 people. Five of us took a 2-hour road trip yesterday in a ’14 Cruze that was quite unpleasant. I’m 6′ and sat with my knees braced against the glove box and the 5’10” guy behind me with his smashed into my chair. Even the 5′, 92lb girl in the middle was feeling squeezed in.

    I have more room driving my RX7. The only reason they don’t stop pretending and make that thing a coupe is because the increased insurance premiums would make all their buyers disappear.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Gen 3 J-body sedan was tight with four (gen 2 a little better). How did the forth passenger get “in the middle” didn’t she have her own side in the rear seat?

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I know Cain did mention the Cruse in passing but this is about “large cars” and the Cruze is a compact. Now of course “compact” cars are now the size that midsizers were 20 years ago. It seems were now in the legroom wars in the sedan segment.

      • 0 avatar
        Kaosaur

        She was the fifth. I just didn’t mention the guy behind the driver.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thx for the clarity. I wouldn’t be able to stay in a J-car stacked five passengers high for 2 hours without at least one murder, so I can imagine your frustration. I’ve only driven Cruze once and it was with one passenger, so I can relate but just not to that model.

  • avatar
    MRBEAN813

    Plastic


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