Audi Resurrects Historical Horch Nameplate, Creates New Luxurious Rare Ride

Audi recently announced a new, super luxurious version of its largest sedan, and it’ll wear some branding not seen in a very long time. Wake up Horch, it’s 2022.

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Opinion: Why Dealers Have Earned Massive Markups

Earlier this week, someone sent me an addendum sticker from Mercedes-Benz of Selma, in Texas. The addendum added two line items to the sticker price. The first line item was VIN etching, at $199. That’s controversial enough, since some people have said that VIN etching is the scam of the decade – but those people haven’t seen the second item: A “Market Adjustment” charge for $125,000.

You read that right. One-hundred and twenty-five thousand U.S. American dollars – and that’s on top of the Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG’s already steep $178,000 asking price. But, frankly, it’s not the 70 percent markup that’s the most offensive thing here, It’s not even the $199 charge for the VIN etching.

Frankly, the worst part of this is that MB of Selma will very likely get their markup. And, when they do, they will deserve every single penny.

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Ford, GM Earnings Reports Will Tell the Chip Shortage Tale

Ford and General Motors are both slated to show their third-quarter earnings reports on Thursday.

Reports suggest that despite the negative impacts of the global semiconductor chip shortage, there may be positives for the companies, as well.

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Don't Be So Fast to Get Charged Up: Ford Lightning Orders Delayed. Maybe.

The same forum that told us to anticipate the order bank opening for the 2022 Ford Lightning next week is now saying “not so fast, my friend” (apologies to Lee Corso).

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AutoNation Wildly Profitable While Car Prices Are Grotesquely High

With automobile prices ballooning to egregiously high levels, one might assume that the industry would be in rough shape. But they’d be dead wrong. Supply chain disruptions have actually created a captive market where consumers are desperate to lay their hands on whatever products are available. In the automotive realm, this has allowed retailers to set ludicrous prices and rake in larger profits per transaction. While inflation may eventually catch up to these entities, the gravy train is currently parked at the station and dousing big business with its warm, brown effluence.

Nobody knows this better than the folks at AutoNation. Because the company just released a quarterly profit report that blew its rosiest projections out of the water. Net income its ongoing operations was $361.7 million for Q3 2021, double the $182.6 million witnessed in Q3 of 2020, while revenue rose 18 percent to $6.4 billion.

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Abandoned History: The Cadillac Cimarron, a Good Mercedes-Benz Competitor

Sometimes car companies get a bit carried away with a new idea that, for a myriad of reasons, doesn’t translate so well in its execution. Toyota (and other Japanese companies) did exactly this when they invested in the very unsuccessful line of WiLL cars and other consumer products in the early 2000s.

Today we look at a 1980s domestic example of an idea that fell flat. It was the time Cadillac thought applying lipstick to a Cavalier-shaped pig would make the BMW and Mercedes-Benz 190E customer come a’callin. It’s time for Cimarron, a J-body joint.

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Car Loans Get Longer, Rental Vehicles Get Older

While nobody needs to tell you that the economy isn’t in good health, we should at least hip you to the latest automotive trends relating to the financial purgatory we’re currently living through. Ford sent a memo to dealers last week indicating that it would be removing the minimum FICO requirement for 84-month financing, indicating that the industry may soon normalize auto loans that are even longer than the 72-month whoppers that have grown in popularity over the last several years.

Meanwhile, those needing a vehicle intermittently will find that rental rates have not been declining as hoped. Despite analysts previously suggesting that auto pricing may stabilize through the fall, we now look to be going into the holidays facing familiar high-priced troubles — and there’s really no reason to think that’s going to change after 2022 gets here.

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UK Vehicle Registrations Fall Into Bottomless Pit

Despite manufacturers still managing to turn a profit, the automotive sector hasn’t been in the best of health these last few years. Growth appears to have plateaued in most Western nations, encouraging companies to cater this business toward other markets, supply chains have also been negatively impacted by the pandemic — with semiconductor shortages hindering production schedules on a scale we’ve not seen since the Great Recession.

It’s a bad situation and rumored to get worse if the warning cries of economists are to be believed. But there’s also mounting evidence to support their claims. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) recently reported that vehicle registrations in the United Kingdom fell by roughly 35 percent in September vs the same timeframe in 2020. This is relevant because the month typically represents the second-busiest period for the country and numbers were already low due to production stops created by coronavirus lockdowns.

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Will Chip Shortage Dethrone GM's Sales Dominance?

Ninety years. That’s the amount of time that General Motors has led the sales charts in the U.S.

That may change this year, according to industry bible Automotive News, because of the ongoing microchip shortage.

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Abandoned History: Project Genesis, Toyota Cars for Young People

Toyota was very focused on youthful consumer appeal at the turn of the millennium. Around the same time the WiLL sub-brand launched in the Japanese home market with its multitude of different products, a similar project was just getting underway at Toyota Motor Sales USA.

It was called Project Genesis, and like WiLL, it didn’t go well.

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Abandoned History: The Early 2000s WiLL Project, for The Youths (Part IV)

The WiLL branding project in early 2000s Japan was intended to excite and interest younger consumers with stylish products, all of which were marketed as WiLL. At the pinnacle of unique WiLL offerings were three different small Toyotas: The first two were the unpopular and unsuccessful retro-French themed Vi, and the modern-looking, popular, and unsuccessful VS.

Around the middle of VS production, Toyota just knew there had to be a part of the market they hadn’t reached yet and reintroduced the idea of the Vi with a polar opposite stylistic direction. This is the Cypha.

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Abandoned History: The Early 2000s WiLL Project, for The Youths (Part III)

Several Japanese companies embarked on the WiLL sub-brand exercise at the dawn of the new millennium. Miscellaneous WiLL-branded products were introduced alongside a funky new car offering from Toyota, the WiLL Vi.

The baguette-themed retro sedan was an immediate failure amongst the youthful consumers WiLL was supposed to attract, so Toyota had a very quick rethink. Meet VS.

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Abandoned History: The Early 2000s WiLL Project, for The Youths (Part II)

The WiLL project was a short-lived collaborative marketing effort by several Japanese brands, intended to capture the interest and money of youthful buyers. Using emotional engineering, seven companies launched new products in the early 2000s wearing WiLL sub-branding. Included in the myriad of offerings were three different subcompact Toyotas.

And here’s the first one, the WiLL Vi.

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Abandoned History: The Early 2000s WiLL Project, for The Youths (Part I)

Today’s Abandoned History story is one of targeted marketing. In the early 2000s, an amalgam of Japanese corporations combined efforts to reach out to younger consumers via unified branding. Cars, food, appliances – all across Japan new, youth-focused products all wore the same sub-brand: WiLL.

Collectively WiLL asked, “How do you do, fellow kids?”

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GM Halts Production at Nearly All U.S. Plants, Chip Shortage to Blame

The chip shortage has struck again.

General Motors is going to temporarily halt production at most of its North American assembly plants, starting Monday, because the shortage of semiconductor chips continues.

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Opinion: The Jeep Grand Wagoneer Won't Be a Big Success

The reviews are breaking today on the new Jeep Grand Wagoneer. As Jeep resurrects one of its most historical full-size nameplates from a three-decade slumber, it’s getting a lot of positive press coverage. But Jeep is in for a world of disappointment in a couple of years.

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Where Your Author Considers Many Impractical Used Car Suggestions (Part II)

I’m back with more boring used car content, a topic some of you apparently despise with a passion. Caution: More used-car discussion ahead, get out while you still can if this is the case! For the rest of you, let’s review the impractical car suggestions you’ve made that earned a spot on the Yes, I Like list.

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Opinion: Subaru is Doing Everything Just About Right

Tim asked the other day if I might work up an opinion piece on the current state of Subaru. “Sure,” I said, and immediately felt salty. In mind were many criticisms on how the smallish automaker is doing things currently. After that initial salty reaction, I got to thinking about Subaru’s current offerings and recent trajectory more critically. And I realized they’re doing most everything just as they should.

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Where Your Author Considers Many Impractical Used Car Suggestions (Part I)

Today’s article is a follow up to the one from about a week ago, wherein I outlined my current used car shopping idea: something fairly impractical with two doors. The article racked up 195 comments thus far, and I’ve read them all and taken notes.

Let’s get down to your suggestions. First up are the cars I won’t be considering.

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Dealership Markups Are Getting Insane

Car buyers and market observers are used to seeing large dealership markups on models that are tough to get — first editions of popular cars, usually, or models that are produced in small numbers, or both.

It’s no shock to see the Ford Bronco or Chevrolet Corvette marked up by thousands of dollars. Motor Trend reported markups of $30K on Broncos, for example. C8 Corvettes are also being marked up like crazy.

While annoying, it’s somewhat understandable, given how the franchise-dealer system works, as well as how basic capitalism and supply and demand work. You don’t have to like the phenomenon, but the logic behind its existence is sound.

Still, we draw the line at an almost $6K markup of a Mitsubishi Mirage.

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Where Your Author Considers Purchasing Something Less Practical

It’s been a few weeks since I sold the Golf Sportwagen back to the dealership from whence it came, and it’s still there if any of you would like a very clean Golf with no present water issues. Since then, I find myself peering out the kitchen window at the empty driveway space where the Golf used to reside. And it makes me have many thoughts, impractical thoughts.

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CarMax On Used-Car Buying Spree As Market Madness Continues

With used-car prices soaring, retailer CarMax has been busy swooping up used vehicles to flip for sale.

That could be a solid strategy since the chip shortage has left new-car dealers bereft of vehicles on the lot.

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Pour One Out for the Volkswagen Passat

The Volkswagen Passat is dead. At least in America.

2022 will be the last model year for VW’s mid-size sedan.

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Toyota Pulls Japanese Olympics Ads As Games Come Under Fire

The 2021 Summer Olympics, set to be held in Tokyo starting Friday, are proving to be quite unpopular, at least in Japan. And apparently, Toyota has taken notice and pulled the plug on its planned local advertising during the Games.

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Opinion: Here's Where Infiniti Lost Its Way

Late last year I put forth some thoughts about the future direction of Infiniti, largely about how the company was on a downward trajectory. Looking forward, the brand needs a major change in direction – not much has changed since December when I wrote that piece.

But one might then logically ask “Where did the company first lose its way?” I’m going to answer that question right now. Let’s take a little trip to the Before Times, in 1990.

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Report: GM Not Bothered By Corvette Markups

Chevrolet’s C8 Corvette has been in demand.

So much so that some dealers are commanding markups up to $100K over MSRP.

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Opinion: EV Shift Will Require Philosophical Blend

A little under two weeks ago, yours truly wrote about President Joe Biden’s plans for cutting tailpipe emissions and helping to encourage the shift to electric vehicles.

I laid out three basic philosophies that are at play in the debate as to how best move consumers en masse from internal-combustion-engine cars to EVs.

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Ford to Drop Diesel F-150 This Week

Sorry, diesel fans. Just three years after introducing a Power Stroke diesel for the F-150, Ford is dropping the diesel option.

And doing so with haste.

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You Would Be Crazy to Buy a Used Car Right Now

I touched on it in the newsier post about used-car prices down below, but in normal times, scribes like us sometimes advise our family and friends who are car shopping to buy used, because a lightly used car can be in like-new condition and cost significantly less. And someone else has taken the initial huge depreciation hit.

These are not normal times.

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Tight New-Car Supply Leads to Crazy Used-Car Prices

According to car-shopping site iSeeCars, there are currently 16 models that will cost you more used than new.

16!

That is, how shall we say, unusual. And, obviously, not good news for the used-car shopper.

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Where Your Author Ultimately Decides to Give Up Golf (Part III)

The appointment was made, and the Golf was in the shop for the headliner fixes and trim panel repairs after a most irritating morning appointment to trade keys. The same thoughts kept returning to mind continually, forcing me to consider a salient point: Did I want to continue with this sort of ownership experience years into the future?

Short answer? No.

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The Post-Pandemic Sales Outlook Looks Good Despite Current Struggles

The pandemic isn’t over. But a good chunk of the United States is returning to normal, and at some point, the pandemic will peter out in the rest of the world.

How long that takes is anyone’s guess. And beyond the pay grade of anyone who contributes words to this hallowed site. But we can hazard a guess as to how post-pandemic car sales, perhaps with some assistance from an analyst.

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Dodge Challenger Outpaces Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro in Q2 Sales

We don’t normally pay too much attention to pony-car pissing contests or quarter-to-quarter sales battles because, well, they aren’t always interesting and/or newsworthy.

What happened this past quarter caught our eye, however.

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Bugatti Merges With EV Hyper Car Maker Rimac, and That's a Good Thing

We reported last fall how Volkswagen-owned Bugatti had its future products on hold, given the financially turbulent and awful year which was 2020. In addition to the global pandemic cutting production, sales, profits, and everything else, VW was pouring lots of development money into its I.D. electric vehicle lineup.

At the time, there were mumblings that EV startup Rimac was in talks to purchase the brand from VW. News broke yesterday of a merger, where Volkswagen and Porsche are not entirely out of the picture.

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Where Your Author Investigates Some Online Car Buying Services

Given the constant hassles of Volkswagen Golf ownership lately, and how every media outlet is shouting “Highest Used Car Pricing Ever” as loudly as possible, I’ve been pondering selling the Golf to a dealer. No Facebook idiots, no trade-in for something else, just a sale.

Here in The Current Year, there are many companies that purport to give you both the best deal possible and make the car selling process seamless. I found out this week what five such companies are like in the early stages.

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2022 Honda Civic Hits Stores Today

If you’ve been missing the Honda Civic, the wait is over.

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Used Car Prices Have Increased 30 Percent

We’ve been covering the staggering increase of automobile pricing all year, starting with the second-hand surge created by rental industries sucking up used models to replace all the vehicles they dumped during the pandemic. A year of suppressed demand and prolonged restrictions absolutely crippled supply chains and placed the automotive sector in an extremely difficult position going into 2021. We wish we could say things were improving but the most heartening news we’ve come across was the possibility that select manufacturers might soon have a line on semiconductor chips — hopefully encouraging new vehicle production.

But the used market is still heading into uncharted waters. According to data collected by CarGurus, the typical price for a used automobile increased by about 30 percent against this time last year. Though more worrying is how much of that spike is consolidated within the last 90 days.

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Will Tesla Expand in China, Or Head the Export Route?

What does the future hold for Tesla in China? Expansion, or exports?

That’s the question being asked by an Automotive News story today.

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2022 BMW 2 Series Coupes Coming Soon

The 2022 BMW 2 Series coupes are on their way. Dynamic testing, drivetrain, and suspension tuning on the two-door compact are nearing conclusion. Production begins in the late summer of 2021.

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Rare Rides: The 2021 Rolls-Royce Boat Tail, for Luxury Picnic Enjoyment

Rolls-Royce unveiled a Rare Ride today, marking the first time we’re featuring a car in this series on the day of its release. Ultra-luxurious, it’s intended to showcase its owner’s wealth, exclusivity, and picnic planning skills.

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Guyton New Mazda North American Ops President

Appointed Mazda North American Operations (NAO) president and CEO, Jeff Guyton replaces Masahiro Moro effective June 24th. Recalled to Hiroshima, Moro becomes the newly-minted Chief Communications Officer.

Guyton’s oversight includes North America, Canada, Columbia, and Mexico, along with US and Mexican vehicle production.

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Ford Launches Blue Advantage Used Car Buying Experience

Last quarter Ford launched its new Blue Advantage used car buying service, in an attempt to turn clicks into sales for its Ford dealers. Ford promises an excellent experience on its Blue Advantage cars, and the service includes cars from other marques. Dealers have signed up in droves.

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BorgWarner's ETurbo Powers High-Voltage Hybrids

BorgWarner’s eTurbo will power the high-voltage hybrid vehicle of an undisclosed major European OEM. BorgWarner’s electric boosting technology increases engine efficiency and performance while meeting emissions regulations. This will be the first application of its electrically-assisted turbocharger in a high-voltage hybrid.

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Toyota Financial Results for 2021 Revealed

Last week, Toyota financial results for the fiscal year that ended March 31st were announced. Vehicle sales totaled 7,646,000, a decrease of 1,309,000 units, or a little less than 15 percent compared to the previous fiscal year.

Net revenue was $256.7 billion, an 8.8 percent decrease. Operating income decreased from $22.6 billion to $20.7 billion, while income before taxes amounted to $27.6 billion. Net income was up from $19.2 billion to $21.1 billion.

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Report: People Willing to Pay Stupid Prices for New Cars

While we’d like to get away from stories about everything becoming more expensive, everything actually is becoming more expensive and it looks like a healthy slice of the population is allegedly willing to go along with it. According to the latest data coming from Cox Automotive, roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population would purchase a vehicle at 12 percent above sticker. There’s always been a subset of shoppers who don’t know when they’re being taken but this represents a healthy share of the country.

It makes one wonder where these surveys were being conducted until Cox summarized the situation as the direct result of a populace beaten down by their environment. Apparently, people no longer expect to find good deals and have not yet reached the point where they’ll feel comfortable driving around in the same busted crate that’s seen them through the last decade as a way to save money.

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Stellantis Brand Executives Must Prove Their Worth, CEO Gives Deadline

According to a tweet this morning, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares is giving the company’s top brass at each brand a decade to justify their existence. Suddenly, it’s easy to picture some nervous auto executives dotted around the globe.

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Torsus Praetorian 4X4 Off-Road Bus Updated

Torsus’ Praetorian, heavy-duty, off-road 4X4 buses, has announced a number of technical advances. These rugged off-road buses are made to cross some of the most inhospitable terrains on earth.

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Chicago Auto Show Set to Return in July

The 2020 Chicago Auto Show was, as far this author knows, the last major auto show to take place before COVID shut the world down.

Now, it might be the first auto show to return.

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Chip Shortage Forces Ford Into Inventory Shortage

If you want to buy a Ford, you might have to hurry.

The microchip shortage could leave at least some Ford dealers short on inventory until perhaps August, according to Automotive News.

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Tundra Versus the F-150 – What's Wrong With Toyota?

Can the Toyota Tundra go toe-to-toe with the Ford F-150, and does it make sense to try? The F-150 is the most popular vehicle in the U.S., despite a 12 percent drop in sales. Ford still managed to sell 787, 422 F-150s in 2020. Toyota sold a little over 109,000 Tundras in 2020, down two percent from 2019. While that sounds like the Tundra did well, it only outran the Nissan Titan.

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QOTD: Does Color Affect Resale Value?

Color counts when selling or buying a car. But which colors help or hurt? iSeeCars.com, a car search engine, performed exhaustive research on this topic, recently publishing the results.

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Report: Ford Mustang Mach-E Price Hike Set for Monday

We’ve driven the Ford Mustang Mach-E and liked it. But one of our beefs was the price — it ain’t cheap.

Well, come Monday, it will be even less cheap.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: The Cheapest Full-size, Truck-based SUVs in America for 2021

We continue the Cheapest Of series today on Buy/Drive/Burn, and check out the least expensive full-size truck-based SUVs on sale in America in 2021. And we’ve been generous today and equipped each of them with four-wheel drive to avoid any usability concerns. Today’s trio is very close in price but diverges elsewhere. Let’s go.

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2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz Reveals Itself

The 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has finally seen the light of day. It was about time, given all the fuzzy photos and hype prior to dropping today. More like a dull thud than a big bang, but here it is.

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2021 Jeep Exclusive – Gladiator Trail for Texas

There’s a new 2021 Jeep Gladiator, the Texas Trail. Unveiled this week, the Trail is offered only in Texas, the country’s largest truck market.

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Report: Ford to Build Standalone Bronco Stores

If you have Bronco on the brain, you may find yourself buying one from a store that stands separate from your local Ford dealer.

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Chinese Auto Sales Reportedly Rebounding Robustly

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) is reporting its home market grew 74.9 percent in March, resulting in nearly 2.53 million new-vehicle deliveries. While we’re often skeptical of the organization’s rosy predictions and tallies, it’s claiming the recent sales surge is the direct result of how bad things had been in the previous year. China instituted some of the most aggressive lockdown protocols of any nation in the initial stages of the pandemic and had already been struggling with a declining vehicle market in 2019.

CAAM is making no illusions about the gains being based on anything other than how horrible March of 2020 was and doesn’t want to overpromise moving ahead. It’s a warning that the semiconductor shortage will likely worsen as the year continues, dampening Q2 projections. But the organization has not yet revised its forecast for next year’s overall sales. Last December, CAMM predicted roughly 26.3 million vehicles would be delivered by the end of 2021 and appears to be running with that target.

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Rich People Are Finally Back On Top, Mercedes Takes U.S. Quarterly Sales Honors

Mercedes-Benz had an enviable first-quarter and managed to find itself back on top of U.S. luxury sales, icing out its chief rival BMW after two years of living in its shadow. Mercedes reportedly sold 78,256 vehicles within the first three months of 2021, thanks largely to its crossover vehicles.

It’s a year-over-year increase of 16 percent and helps to explain why the brand is relegating the CLS to a single trim while expanding its options for heavy hitters like the GLC Class. But Mercedes’ recent success may have more to do with the way the luxury segment is rebounding as a whole. As pedestrian models are finding themselves coming out of the pandemic with fewer customers, especially of the subprime variety, high-end luxury brands are enjoying clearer skies.

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There's Even More to the Voltswagen/Volkswagen Story [UPDATED]

While giving my opinion last week on the Volkswagen April Fool’s Day scandal, I wrote that I hope it would be the last time I posted about it.

Cue Ron White voice: “I was wrong.”

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Subprime Auto Market Looking Extra Rough in 2021

The subprime auto market looks to be in poor health as the number of borrowers with outstanding loans that are more than 60 days overdue continues increasing. While the number has a tendency to rise and fall between seasons, the general trend toward indebtedness has been going up since 2015, with increasingly more customers boasting lackluster credit scores becoming incapable of footing their transportation bill.

Delinquencies skyrocketed in 2020, as government lockdowns pushed many out of work and now appear to be increasing due to a recovery plan that primarily seems to be serving cooperate interests and the wealthiest socioeconomic classes. Though it should be said that middle and lower-class families had been losing ground for decades, at least according to the latest Pew Research data. Pandemic-related complications only served to accelerate the existing financial disparities on all fronts. We are now on course for poorer people to have even less money moving forward, especially in the world’s most developed countries.

I wonder why so many people are defaulting on their car loans…

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  • Bil65789488 Consumers or manufacturers didn't kill sedans, the government, CAFE, and ZEV killed sedans. With far higher standards and taxes/penalties on sedans than SUVs or trucks, it is no mystery why this is happening.
  • Redapple2 Flyer: Caveat. Subaru. Near 9 inches ground clearance and near Land Rover AWD system, They can do some impressive things off road. (I m not talking Moab trails).
  • Corey Lewis The short truck is terrible. The tire blocks all rear visibility while making the tiny bed very tricky to access. And the wheels on it look like they're from 2002. Other than that, I really like the idea of the Grenadier and it seems like a good effort. I wouldn't buy one because of the tractor recirculating ball steering, which makes it terrible in everyday use.
  • Bjohnson10 Coast to Coast by the Jesus and Mary Chain. It's only about someone on a cross-country motorcycle trip while high on heroin.
  • Funky D A few from my road trip playlist: Eddie Rabbitt - Drivin' My Life AwayAmerica - Ventura Highway---Herb Alpert - Route 101Jerry Reed - East Bown and DownEddie Money - Shakin'Lindey Buckingham - Holiday RoadWar - Low RiderTears for Fears - Everybody Wants to Rule the World (Not a driving song per se, but if you've seen the video, you'll get it)Wang Chung - Wait (Gotta see the end credits of "To Live and Die in LA", for this one)