TTAC’s eulogy on Saab was premature. The Chinese willing, there will be new Saabs in the future. Surprisingly, Swedish defense contractor Saab AB licensed the Saab name to National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) to be used in future vehicles, a press release of NEVS says. NEVS also “finalized its acquisition of the main assets of Saab Automobile AB, Saab Automobile Powertrain AB and Saab Automobile Tools AB, effective August 31, 2012.”
The ultimatum given to NEVS last week apparently instilled fresh urgency into the parties, and an undisclosed amount changed hands on Friday. For the money, NEVS also received “IP rights for the Saab 9-3, IP rights for the Phoenix platform, tools, the manufacturing plant, and test and laboratory facilities.” There are others who think they also own that Phoenix platform. And the people of Trollhättan better don’t get their hopes up on EV exports to China.
After sharing with you a couple of world updates ( Top 150 best-selling models in June 2012 and our monthly World Roundup for July 2012), its is with a solemn tone that I announce to you that today is a special day.
Today I am launching the Africa Project, to try and bring African countries to a similar level of data and car sales information as the rest of the world.
If you live in Africa or have data on any African country please be sure to comment on this post and I will get in touch with you directly.Africa not your thing? All good. You can visit 121 additional countries and territories in my blog, one by one, in the comfort of your own lounge. Travelling the world doesnt get any cheaper than that!Back to Africa. There are only 2 countries (out of about 50!) that report models sales data monthly. This is where you come in…
“ The BMW M6 Coupe, decked out in China’s national color, was launched today on the China auto market during the Chengdu Auto Show. There is only one, priced at a rather sick 2.33 million yuan, or 367.000 USD. Not cheap indeed and most of da money goes directly to the Chinese tax office. Big engined cars are taxed up to 40% of value in China. But no matter, the M6 Coupe is worth it, just for that brilliant 4.4 twin-turbo V8 with 550hp and 680nm.“
Of course, there are the female product specialists of the Chengdu Motor Show. They bring them out en masse on the second press day. Warning: If you are offended by insufficiently dressed Asian females with garters, DO NOT click the jump. We promise it won’t be a picture of big – ears.
People keep their eyes on automaker incentives for various reasons. Customers are hunting deals. Analysts hunt carmakers that are sitting on a glut of cars. Incentive numbers don’t always tell the full story, says Edmunds. In August, incentive spend was subdued and stable. Automakers and dealers have become adept in camouflage though, and the reported stability of incentive spending doesn’t factor in some of the “hidden incentives.”
There’s no way I’m going to spot a junked 80s Japanese car with the optional super-futuristic digital dash and not go back and buy that instrument cluster. So, now I’ve got a genuine digital dash collection going on, adding the Cressida cluster to my ’84 Nissan 300ZX Turbo cluster and my ’83 Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo cluster.
We’ve seen a totally Malaise-y early Cressida and a didn’t-know-they-built-them-so-recently Cressida in this series, but I’ve been scouring the self-serve yards for an example of the mid-80s rear-drive Toyota luxury sedans. Finally, here’s an ’84, complete with all manner of high-tech (for the time) features.
The winners of Nissan’s GT Academy have been chosen. To nobody’s surprise in particular, their group photograph is completely unsuitable for this site. Turns out that the Internet is a little short on hot girls or street-wise African-American dudes who are totes into racing imaginary cars online. Oh well. Now, the shortlist of digital Sennas is off to try their hand at driving some real cars.
Today, the Moscow Motor show opened its doors its doors to the public. This time, it is the Russian of more modest means who has the attention of the world’s carmakers, keen to profit from one of Europe’s few growing markets,” says Reuters, reporting from the show.
Sales Forecasts August 2012Forecast TrueCarForecast KelleyUnitsYoYShareUnitsYoYShareChrysler142,5939.60%11.4%142,6009.60%11.2%Ford191,4569.50%15.3%191,6009.60%15.1%GM227,0873.90%18.1%225,9503.40%17.7%Honda133,45862.10%10.6%129,45057.30%10.2%Hyundai/Kia117,21217.60%9.3%119,66220.00%9.4%Nissan97,0226.00%7.7%105,00014.70%8.2%Toyota182,89641.30%14.6%176,95036.70%13.9%Volkswagen47,06932.80%3.7%53,50050.50%4.2%Industry1,255,39217.20%100.0%1,273,00018.70%100.0%
When U.S. August sales numbers will be announced next week, TrueCar expects them to be up strongly. The Santa Monica forecaster predicts August new light vehicle sales to be in the neighborhood of 1,255,392 units, up 17.2 percent from August 2011. TrueCar’s forecast would translate into a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (“SAAR”) of 14.2 million new car sales, up from 12.1 million in August 2011.
Japan’s automakers released global production and sales data for July today. It is an ancient Japanese tradition, which is also shared by large European carmakers, but shunned by most American globals. GM for instance reports only quarterly on a global basis, and keeps observers guessing in between. July data released by Japanese large automakers shows a strong rebound after last year’s multiple disasters. Honda looks especially strong, while Toyota’s march towards regaining the title “World’s largest automaker 2012” appears unstoppable.
While foreign cars are still a bit underrepresented in Japan, fueling fierce allegations of trickery by unions, democrat lawmakers and grossly underrepresented Detroit carmakers, foreign carparts do not have this problem. With the yen stuck at abnormally high level, Japanese carmakers more and more buy their parts cheaper overseas.
|Reader Josh Howard relates the story of why he recommended a Mitsubishi to a co-worker…he’s a brave soul
After reading Derek’s excellent piece on Mitsubishi and their irrelevance in the American marketplace, I began thinking about the brand, and their history in the United States. A few months ago, I went against my better instincts and actually recommended one to a coworker despite knowing what Mitsubishi turned into in the early 2000’s…not to mention a turbocharged DSM car some years prior.
After sharing with you the Top 150 best-selling cars in the world last week, it is time for our acclaimed monthly rendezvous: the World Roundup! This is already the 5th World Roundup, it’s amazing how time flies, isn’t it?
If last month the focus was on the Focus (ha) in China and the Santa Fe in South Korea, in July most of the highlights happened in Europe…
You can check out previous world Roundups here for March 2012 (“Has the Hybrid era started for good?”), here for April 2012 (“Big change coming from India”) and here for May 2012 (“GM and Toyota Etios make headlines”).
Enough of the world and you just want to know which cars sell best in your own backyard? Easy. You can visit 168 countries and territories in my blog, one by one, in the comfort of your own lounge. Travelling the world doesnt get any cheaper than that!
Back to our Roundup.
Sometimes we work too hard for success. We listen to others, constructive criticism or not, doing our best to make a change for the better. But are we really accomplishing that? I’ve always wondered if the ends justify the means. Not for me at CCS in Detroit: after trying to change myself to fit a certain mold and failing, I realized I’m totally okay with (most) everything I do. On or off the vellum.
I wonder if vehicles like the Infiniti JX are the byproduct of a design studio trying too hard to address criticisms. Or maybe this is just a common case of “over-styling” a vehicle. Either way, here we are.
Our newest segment, “Suspension Truth”, comes to us courtesy of Shaikh J Ahmad. An engineer by training, Shaikh is the owner of Fat Cat Motorsports, and a self-styled “Suspension Wizard”. Shaikh creates custom suspension components for a variety of cars, including the Mazda Miata and RX-8, the Nissan 350Z, Mini Cooper and Honda S2000. Back when I had my 1997 Miata, I ordered a set of coilovers from Shaikh, based on his reputation for creating suspension setups with a previously unheard of balance between ride and handling. The Fat Cat coilovers are one of the few products I’ve ever bought that were able to live up to the hype. Over the next few weeks, Shaikh will delve into the science of suspensions, and provide his own analysis of a number of production cars.
What’s your least memorable train ride? Simple question, right? If you’re reading this, I’m going to assume all of them. Unless a screenwriter threw you into an adventure film without your consent, it’s what we’d expect. This brings to mind a popular driving metaphor – ‘handles like it’s on rails.’ That’s our ideal in suspension tuning, to be glued to the ground and also as comfortable as possible. Easy when you’ve controlled every degree of freedom as with a train track and groomed earth beneath.
Renault has re-badged the Nissan Sunny and named it Scala for the Indian market. The French automaker is conducting media drives in Himachal Pradesh right now, where more details of the car have been disclosed. Mechanically, the Scala is a carbon copy of the Sunny. The design changes were done by Renault’s design center in Mumbai.
The German edition of the Financial Times has a story about “broken taboos.” It says that “smaller Mercedes models and cars of Nissan’s premium division Infiniti could together roll off the assembly lines in 2016.” The FTD heard that the joint car could be “a small SUV, possibly based on the Mercedes A or B class.” Reuters has a good English abstract of the German story. Apparently, the FTD was asleep when a major busting of taboos was perpetrated in the beginning of the year.
You can see this ad. Television viewers in the UK can’t. The Chevrolet Volt is sold in the UK as the Vauxhall Ampera, and its ad has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority. It says the ad is misleading. The ad claims a 360-mile range. GM is a serial offender when it comes to alternate realities, and this ad is the latest installment.
The American Automotive Policy Council does not want Japan to be part of a free trade pact with America and other countries. The lobbying arm of Chrysler, Ford and GM published a study that claims that “including Japan in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement combined with allowing Japan to continue to manipulate its currency could put 90,000 American auto jobs at risk.”
A while ago I gave you the Top 100 best-selling models around the globe over the first Quarter of 2012. And you liked it. A lot. I know because you told me. As you know progress never stops, which is why this time I give you… the Top 150 best-sellers worldwide for June 2012.
Update: You can now also check out the Top 120 best-selling models worldwide over the first 6 months 2012 here.
Yes you have read correctly.
Who in his right mind would have ventured such an epic exploration of the varied car tastes in the entire world?
Your favorite car sales nerd, me.
If you had enough of all this worldwide grandiloquence, that’s ok because you can visit 168 countries and territories in my blog, one by one, to figure out which models sell best in each of them. Another crazy thing I do…
Back to the world.
And the nagging question comes back again: has the Focus beaten the Corolla yet?
Car thefts are on the decline, reports The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) in its annual review of trends in car heists. While vehicle thefts have not been this low since 1967, there is a disturbing new trend: Stolen key codes.
Leading the list of the most stolen vehicles of last year is the 1994 Honda Accord:
Out of concern for reader sensitivities, TTAC increased the age limit of its bikini beauties
Every year around this time, the two automotive editors that do not vacation say: “Where are July’s European sales numbers? Weren’t they supposed to be here a week ago?”
No. They will be he here in September. ACEA, the trade group that tallies these things, is closed, and it tans its industry body at Europe’s and the world’s beaches. Only in Europe does the employee’s right to month long holidays stand in the way of timely data.
Brazil was once VW’s home away from home. Here, it felt loved and welcome. It controlled 50 percent of the market. Time passed. An Italian upstart arrived and eventually robbed it of first place by being more agile. VW meanwhile grew bigger appetites and found a new home in China. Brazil, the ex-favorite, the dark, mysterious, tropical, big bosomed former love affair relies on the crumbs that fall off the table of the slanted-eye enchantress.
A few years ago, we drove the Switzer P800, a Nissan GT-R that put slightly over seven hundred horsepower to the wheels. Switzer has since gone on to sell dozens of P800 kits; in fact, your humble author worked with Switzer for the summer of 2010 in an advisory capacity to help sell even more of them. If you’re going to drive a GT-R, you might as well drive a really fast one, right?
Switzer’s customers weren’t satisfied with 800 horses at the crank, though; they wanted a thousand at the crank. And once that was done, they wanted a thousand. At the wheels. Getting to that level wasn’t easy.
The Japanese car industry found a way to soften the impact of the crushingly high yen on its books. It does what U.S. and European automakers have practiced for a long time: Import low-cost parts from abroad. It is a stop-gap measure while large parts of the Japanese car industry is packing.
Writing this series has made me start paying more attention to types of vehicles I’ve long overlooked. Say, the early Nissan 300ZX, or the Mazda-based Mercury Capri. Then we’ve got the beat-up work trucks that still roam the streets in large numbers but are finally dying out, e.g. the Dodge D-100 and the late-60s GM C-series. Today, it’s the turn of Ford’s workhorse from the darkest days of the Malaise Era.
Channel stuffing is taking its toll on China. Customers fight back against “increased sales pressure and an insufficient supply of experienced staff, driven by a disconnect between the dealership network expansion and the market slowdown, “ and punish car manufacturers where it hurts second most: On the J.D.Power Sales Satisfaction Survey. The survey, published today, notices “a notable deterioration in overall sales satisfaction among new-vehicle owners in China.”
The Nikkei [sub] detected a brand-new trend: Cars with an internal combustion engine. In Japan, 20 percent of new cars sold are hybrids. Elsewhere, especially in China and Europe, hybrid cars have a bit of a hard time. “Although being environmentally friendly is important, saving money is tops,” an unnamed Nissan exec told the Tokyo wire, and added that consumers in these markets look more closely at how much they can save on fuel costs in relation to vehicle prices. Now this trend is reaching Japan.
Last month, Toyota invited the Japanese press to join them for “the opening ceremony for its new plant in Brazil on August 9,” a three day event in and around Sao Paulo. The excitement lowered considerably as the Fourth Estate ventured to the bottom of the invitation. There it said that “flight costs to and from Brazil and all accommodation costs will need to be covered by participants themselves.” That’s Toyota as we know and love it. If you have dreams of lavish press jaunts, don’t dream them in Japan. The event happened yesterday, without yours truly. The Nikkei [sub] hopefully sent its local stringer, and it reports what we know anyway: “Toyota Motor Corp. will kick off production of a strategic small car aimed at the emerging-market middle class next month at a new plant in Brazil.” And the new car is the Etios.
The excitement about battery electric vehicles seems to die down amidst disappointing uptake. Range, weight and cost are in the way. At the same time, dormant interest in fuel cell vehicles is being rekindled . A month ago, we had a new look at the technology from the perspective of the Toyota/BMW linkup. Today, The Nikkei [sub] takes a broader view and says that carmakers are in the final lap of the fuel cell race. Let’s have a look at the contestants and where they stand.
In the 80’s, I took a sabbatical from marketing and propaganda, and managed a record distribution company in the U.S. My warehouse manager was Rick, a redheaded bear of a guy who also could have been Master at Arms of the local Hells Angels chapter. Come to think of it, he managed the parts department of a motorcycle store before I hired him. The love of his life were a motor cycle and his Z Car. Rick would have suffered a heart attack, would he have known that his manly Z was a ladyboy. At home in Japan, the Z had a girlie name : The Fairlady.
When I saw today’s Junkyard Find at my local self-serve junkyard, I knew that I had to own that incredible digital dash. You see, I’ve already got a Mitsubishi Cordia Turbo digital instrument cluster, which means I’m collecting this stuff now.
After the Malaise Era of 1973 through 1983, we had the Turbo Era. I’m going to say the Turbo Era lasted from 1984 through about 1992, and it was followed by the Everybody Finally Has Electronic Fuel Injection And It’s About Damn Time Era. The real star of the Turbo Era was, of course, the Mitsubishi Starion, which was so incredibly turbo-centric that it had the word “TURBO” stitched into the seat belts. The Nissan 300ZX Turbo didn’t register much lower on the Turbo Awesomeness-O-Meter, however, and now I feel vaguely ashamed that I’ve ignored so many of these things in so many junkyards over the years. Today we will honor one of the stars of the Turbo Era!
Hybrids and minivehicles are still on top of Japan’s list of best-selling cars in July, only more. The Prius is ichi ban with 33,398 units sold. Last time we looked in May, it was 20,789. It is followed by its compact sister, the Aqua (better known in the U.S. as Prius C) with 26,274.
Honda’s Fit is back in #3.
After a trip to Bulgaria and the much anticipated June 2012 World Roundup, I wasn’t going to let the London Olympics go without an update on the UK car market. London-ed out already? No worries, you can visit 167 additional countries and territories in my blog, go on, you know you want to!
The last time I spoke to you about the UK car market in detail was in May 2011 for the Royal Wedding…
Since then there has been a lot of water down the (London) bridge. That was an easy pun…
In the eternal quest to adhere to “sustainability”, Lamborghini will apparently be fitting the Aventador with a start-stop system and cylinder deactivation. Am I the only one that finds the recent trend of eco-friendly supercars ridiculous?
With California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate looming it is only a matter of time till we see an EV from each of the major players in the California market. Nissan has the Leaf, BMW has the Active E, GM has the Volt and Honda electrified a Fit and Ford has electrified everything that isn’t nailed down. That brings us to the elephant in the room: Toyota. To give us some insight into Toyota’s CARB (California Air Resources Board) compliance plans [s]and to see the fruits of the unlikely Toyota/Tesla marriage[/s], Toyota flew us to sunny Southern California to sample the 2013 RAV4 EV.
And now, the hangover: July brings disappointing sales numbers for GM and Ford after June had surprised. GM is down 6 percent in July. Ford is down 4 percent. Even Chrysler Group reports down to earth results with July up only 13 percent after a truly ballistic series of months. In June, Edmunds Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell politely voiced suspicions that the beautiful June numbers were the product of cosmetics:
Two times, the UAW tried to unionize the Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. Twice, the Union received a black eye. The UAW is trying a third time, this time counting on the fact that “an estimated 70 percent of the workforce is black,” says Reuters in a feature story on the UAW’s last ditch effort to gain relevance in the South.
I woke up bright and early on Monday morning, 7:00 AM. A wake-up time reserved for maniacs and those who have circadian rhythms that are the exact opposite of yours truly.
Just a 10 mile drive to a neighboring auto auction. A nice stroll to a back lot loaded with 91 cars for the 9:30 AM sale. The beauty of the day seemed to shine before me as I looked at what was supposed to be an immaculate 1987 BMW 524td that had all of 69,000 miles.
Last week we saw how Great Wall reached Bulgaria with promising results, and this week is the moment you’ve all been eagerly waiting for: the famous World car sales Roundup, June edition! You can check out previous world Roundups here for March 2012 (“Has the Hybrid era started for good?”), here for April 2012 (“Big change coming from India”) and here for May 2012 (“GM and Toyota Etios make headlines”).
World Roundups not your thing? No worries, you can visit 168 countries and territories in my blog, go on, you know you want to!
So in May we talked General Motors and Toyota, this month we talk Ford and Hyundai, with the Focus and Santa Fe now making headlines…
While a number of automakers have been complicit (and still are) when it comes to badge engineering, Suzuki in North America has been on the forefront of whoring out or johning platforms since its introduction in the 80s. The ‘Japanese brand that could’ has either slapped the stylized S on Daewoos and Nissans or let GM have their dirty ways with the grilles of small Suzuki cars and SUVs.
Remember 1985? If you were paying attention to cars, then the then-new Civic Si and Mk2 Jetta GLI were on your radar. Which did you prefer? For the 2012 model year both cars are again new. One of them has changed surprisingly little. The other, though it retains some choice bits, has perhaps lost the plot.