Shoot The Pink: Flesh Colored Nizzan

Out of my private collection: A winged pink Nissan 350Z, entering the expressway in an interesting neighborhood of Dongguan, Guangdong province, China.

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GM Back To Its Channel Stuffing Ways

The Nikkei [sub] comes with the good news that “Japan’s automakers have finally resolved the inventory shortages that have hindered their sales in the U.S. market.” According to the Tokyo wire, Japan’s automakers “are in a better position to compete with their Western and Korean rivals,” now that lots are stocked again.

Well, not quite. Japanese inventories are still fashionably slim compared to some Detroit chubbos. Pop some Tums and have a look.

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Lexus Moves Production Closer To China

That Lexus will come out with a new ES Hybrid, dubbed the ES300h, is no secret. Being an entry level Lexus, it has to watch its price point. It also has to contend with the high yen, most of the Lexi are exported. The Nikkei [sub] thinks it know how Toyota will solve this dilemma, at least partially. Toyota will make the ES300h on the Japanese island of Kyushu, “taking advantage of the site’s proximity to Asian suppliers of low-cost parts,” The Nikkei says.

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Automotive Aloha: 1937 Rolls-Royce, Pre-War Bentley, And A Dakine Engine

Even when on vacation, I can’t help tripping over interesting stuff. In this case, quite literally. Ouch. My toe’s still bleeding.

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Ghosn's Two Front China Offensive

The Nikkei [sub] must have been having intimate chats with sources high up in Nissan’s tower at the Yokohama waterfront again.

Prematurely perturbing press people at Nissan, the Tokyo wire reports that a new factory will be constructed in China, and that Infiniti cars will be built at yet another factory in China. In the meantime, Reuters cultivated sources at Renault and says that Renault will finally finalize a deal to produce cars in China.

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The Cars You Get The Most Mileage Out Are Not American

“Gas prices are nearing $4 per gallon nationwide and consumers are getting reluctant to pay any additional money at the pump when buying a new vehicle,” said Jesse Toprak of TrueCar. This changes buying pattern, and it might influence election results. Important as the topic may be, foreign carmakers continue to give you the most mileage. American carmakers lag .

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Nissan Leaf Styling And Range Tweaks Overstated

Automotive News is reporting that the Nissan Leaf will eventually get a restyling specific to Europe as well as increased range. But our Nissan sources say that’s not entirely accurate.

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What Can You Buy That Costs Less Than A Bus Pass?

After taking a look at product planning and marketing for new cars, it’s time to take a step back into the supposed domain of Generation Why; used cars. And not just any old CPO Audi or two year old Civic either. We’re talking beaters.

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Sell Your Car Now, Or Forever Keep The Piece …

Used car prices have been rising for a while to a degree that sometimes it can be cheaper to buy new than used. If you have been sitting on the fence, it could be time to hop on down. Used car prices are predicted to peak within the next two months.

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British PM Imports Jobs From Japan

Today, British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived at a state visit to Japan. His trip was feted as a success even before his plane touched down at Tokyo’s Haneda airport. Nissan announced that a new midsized model will be produced at Nissan’s Sunderland Plant in 2014.

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Toyota Hilux Wins In Paraguay

After a two-week interruption to explore the Top 100 best-selling cars in the world and the Top 318 best-selling models in Europe, I am now back to travelling where you want me to… Based on your suggestions, we have already been to Chile, Georgia (the country, not the American state), Myanmar and Bolivia.

And this week we are going to Paraguay. Why? Because lilpoindexter and lokki have asked. Yep, Paraguay seems to be a popular destination among TTAC readers… Is that because of Larissa Riquelme, the lingerie model who promised to run naked in the streets of Asuncion if the Paraguay soccer team won the 2010 World Cup? Maybe.

But wait, are you tired of South America already? Que no es un problemo, because I have sales info for 159 additional countries for you to visit in my blog, all one by one. So don’t be shy and click away!

The good thing about Paraguay is that I have official data. Yep, no need for me to spend hours watching YouTube videos to give you my best guess. Phew!

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Review: 2012 Toyota Prius C

In the geek world we have “Moore’s law” which states the number of transistors in ICs will double every two years. In the automotive world we have the bloat law. Every generation of a vehicle will get more powerful, heavier and physically larger than its predecessor, ultimately requiring the manufacturer to design an entirely new, smaller car to fill the void left by the original.

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Who And What Is Moving In Brazil (Not Just To The Rhythm Of Samba)

Brazil provides the first letter of BRIC. Without the BRICs, we’d have tombstones for carmakers. How are we keeping the global auto business alive, down here in the Southern Cone? Follow me as I give you the highlights.

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The Exorbitant Cost Of Savings: Don't Buy A Volt If You Value Your Money

Two years after the Volkswagen Golf was launched, it received a fuel sipping diesel in 1976. I presented the launch campaign in Wolfsburg, and the ground shook. It wasn’t because of my campaign. It was because of the body stamping presses. The offices of the Zentrale Absatzförderung, VW’s advertising department, were two floors above.

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The Other March 2012 Sales Numbers

(We’re big fans of Timothy Cain here at TTAC, and now the independent sales analyst par excellence is on board with us. Welcome!)

It’s one thing to point out that Fiat 500 sales jumped 642% in March in an attempt to display knowledge. It’s another thing to recognize, with great wisdom and awareness, that such a year-over-year comparison is all but invalid given the fact that Fiat only began selling the 500 in March of last year.

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Volkswagen Up! Is World Car Of The Year
2013 Chevrolet Spark Priced At $12,995

The 2013 Chevrolet Spark won’t unseat the Nissan Versa as America’s cheapest car when it launches in late 2012. Starting at $12,995, the basic LS model comes with a fairly decent suite of equipment, including 10 airbags, air conditioning, auxiliary jack (hooray!) power windows, Onstar and 15 inch alloy wheels.

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Infiniti Production To Leave Japan; North America, China Possible New Sites

Nissan’s upscale Infiniti cars can only be bought outside of Japan, but most of the cars are made in Japan. That will change, said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn in New York.

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New York 2012: Infiniti Shows The First Plug-In Which You Don't Have To Plug In Anymore

Nissan waited until the second press day of the New York Auto Show. They did not want their all-electric Infiniti sedan to drown in the floods of other reveals. They should not have worried.

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New York 2012: Mr. Eight Percent

A year ago, Carlos Ghosn announced that Nissan is aiming for 8 percent global market share by 2016. This morning in New York, delivering the keynote address at the New York Auto Show, Ghosn said it again:

“We can achieve 8 percent global market share by 2016.”

After a pause, he continued: “Whenever I state this 8 percent goal, I get some skeptical looks.”

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New York 2012: Live Viper Shots And Impressions

The scrum of journalists and wanna-bes around the Viper has been consistently packed for two hours now. We have some impressions from Byron Hurd and NASA instructor Jeff Stutler for your consumption; later on in the show I will wander over, sit in the thing, and try to correlate it with my experiences of the previous Vipers.

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Review: London Taxi TX4, Test-Driven In India

Rarely does it happen that I get so excited to get up on a Monday morning, especially after a late night on a Sunday. But it was different this Monday, I was driving all the way from Mumbai to Pune early morning to drive a taxi. Yes a taxi, but this is no normal taxi, you see. It’s the iconic cab, made by the London Taxi Company. Popularly called the black cab or the hackney carriage, the London Taxi is a rare sight in India, because there are just six of these in India. I drove a red one.

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Secret Picture Reveals: Carlos Tavares Defaces Car, And Vladimir Putin Just Stands There

They did not know that TTAC’s man in the cold was surreptitiously snapping pictures with his iPhone. Again-elected Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin simply watched while Renault COO Carlos Tavares defaced the hood of a brand-new car with a Magic Marker. Nissan’s COO Toshiyuki Shiga grinned and did not interfere either. This is how they celebrate the opening of a new car factory, this afternoon in Russia.

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Nissan Brings The GT-R Back To The Ring, Pits Nerds Against Race Car Drivers

Not to have another stab at the best “ production, street-legal” Nordschleife lap time. That’s not why they are trading the chilly Eifel for balmy Yokohama. Allegedly, Nissan does not want to work on the 7:24:22 lap time.

Instead, says GT-R program director Kazutaka Mizuno:

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Anti-Iran Pressure Group Takes Hyundai Off Axis Of Evil Black List, Keeps GM And Chrysler On

Car companies severing ties with Iran are making headlines. After GM’s new partner PSA decided to stop sending parts to Iran, Hyundai “has quietly ended its business dealings with Iran, where it had extensive operations,” says the New York Times. The Times chalks this up as a win for “United Against Nuclear Iran, an American group that has advocated economic sanctions.” UANI keeps a list of companies that still do business with Iran, it also lists companies that have withdrawn from doing so. Hyundai has received a check mark in the “withdrawn” list.

Detroit is looking nervously at that list. Let’s have a look as well.

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Six Time Winner & Record Holder "Monster" Tajima to Race Electric Racecar up Pikes Peak

Last month Mitsubishi announced that it will be running an i-MiEV based race car up Pikes Peak in this year’s version of the famed Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Now comes word that six time consecutive winner and current Pikes Peak course record holder Nobuhiro “Monster” Tajima (you can see his record run from last year below) will be attacking the mountain in another electric car, sponsored by Japan’s Association for the Promotion of Electric Vehicles, a trade group of over 170 companies with an interest in EVs, including Toyota and Tesla. Winning an event six times in a row in any form of motorsport is impressive. Doing that and setting a course record at 62 years old is even more impressive. As the saying goes, he’s big in Japan. Tajima has joined the APEV as a “commissioner” and his high profile will be used to promote EVs and APEV’s environmental and humanitarian efforts, including aid to victims of last year’s earthquake and tsunami.

Those environmental and humanitarian efforts ironically come as Bloomberg reports that EV’s have lost some of their green sheen in Japan in the wake of the tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.

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U.S. Car Sales: Forward, March!

Despite high gas prices and a still shaky economy, customers appear to be tired of their old cars and frequented the surviving car dealers en masse in March. Better inventories, juicy lease deals and new models light a fire under sales. We will update this table throughout the day as new numbers come in.

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New York 2012: Nissan Altima, Now With More CVT, 38 MPG
Finally, we can dispense with the dumb teasers and show you the face of the 2013 Nissan Altima. Bad news – a CVT is standard across the board.
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Car Buyers More, Car Makers Less Generous In March

Not only did Americans return to showrooms en masse in March, the also opened their wallets wider. Transaction prices are on a steady climb, says TrueCar. Manufacturers on the other hand show less largesse and tighten incentives.

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America's 10 Most Manly Motor Machines

“What to call these?” tweeted @edmunds.com. “Dudemobiles? Guy Cars? Testosteroners?” And they linked to their scientifically prepared list of the cars with the most men as buyers. Not a list compiled by basement dwellers, but by Polk. The list reflects total purchases made in 2011. And we are counting down …

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Japan In March 2012: New Car Sales Jump 72 Percent

New car sales in Japan rose 72 percent in March to 751,888 vehicles. Sales of registered vehicles climbed 78.2 percent to 497,959, says the Japan Automobile Dealers Association JADA. Sales of separately reported mini vehicles rose 60.5 percent to 253,929, as indicated by data of the Japan Mini Vehicles Association.

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The Top 318 Best Selling Cars in Europe (Hint: The Corolla is Nowhere to Be Seen)

In the last couple of weeks we have traveled to Georgia (the country, not the state,) Myanmar, Bolivia and the entire world! The success of our exploration of the Top 100 best-selling models in the world last week made me think you might be interested in a similar type of article about Europe…

However, if the whole of Europe is too much for you to handle today, that’s fine because I have sales info for 160 countries for you to visit in my blog, all one by one. So don’t be shy and click away!

Back to your Grand Tour of Europe.

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Interest For EVs Fading

It’s “another broadside for the EV industry,” says Automotive News [sub]. The alleged artillery barrage was sent by the Center for Automotive Research. It cancelled its 2012 Business of Plugging In conference. The reason? Lack of interest.

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Fiat Brazil: Uno Kicks Gol Off Top Spot. Films At Eleven

Following up on the good news of sister Chrysler in America, Fiat do Brasil has some good news of their own to send embattled Turin’s way. As of March 20, the Uno has officially pushed ahead of the VW Gol and has taken the sales crown in Brazil. According to Brazilian car site webmotors.com.br, this is the first time the Uno has been ahead of the Gol for an extended period of time. Hitherto, the Uno had threatened VW’s pride and joy a month or another, then lagged behind.

But wait, there’s more!

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2012 New York Auto Show Preview

Among journalists, the New York Auto Show is consistently a favorite on “the circuit”. Is it the interesting product size of the Javits Center? Of course not. It’s the chance to have an OEM fly you out to New York, put you up at a luxury hotel, wine you, and dine you. Unless you’re TTAC, in which case your base of operations is the Super 8 Motel in Bergen County, New Jersey.

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Edmunds Sees SAARing March Sales

It will be a suspenseful Monday. When new car sales numbers will be announced for March, I could look like carmageddon never happened. After J.D. Power had predicted sales of 1,372,400 units for March and Kelley Blue Book 1,425,000 units, real-time date equipped Edmunds now sees a total of 1,451,956 new cars changing hands. That would translate into a Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of 14.9 million units.

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Honda Fit. Officially Hecho En Mexico

Honda will build its Fit compact at the new Honda factory in Mexico, from where it will be exported to the U.S. and other markets. This is what the company told Hans Greimel, Automotive News [sub] rezident in Tokyo.

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Fiat's Future In America And Elsewhere: A Counterpoint

Our own Ed Niedermeyer recently penned an excellent and well-thought-out article involving the whole Fiat-Chrysler imbroglio. Now, I don’t work for Fiat. However, I do live in, arguably, Fiat’s most important production center. You can’t go anywhere without running into someone who works at Fiat. Heck, Fiat owns 50% of the car market in my city!

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Renault Opens Import Company In Allegedly Closed Market Japan

Renault has realized a new trend: Imports are hot in Japan. Nissan established a new company, Renault Japon Co., Ltd., to import and sell Renault vehicles in Japan, effective April 2, 2012. Previously, Renaults were sold in Japan by a division of Nissan.

While American automakers sit sulking in a corner and complain about mythical import restrictions to Japan, European makers are looking back at a great year exporting their cars to the island nation. While the Japanese market as a whole dropped 14 percent, imports to Japan rose 22.5 percent.

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Hammer Time: Buy! Buy Buy!

When do wholesale prices equal retail prices?

Think about it for a second. When do the prices of a consumer good become so expensive that there is virtually no markup?

Here are a few scenarios that I can come up with… given what I’ve seen at the auto auctions these days.

1) Extreme shortage of product and too many wholesale buyers.

2) Most everyone buying the product is financing it to sub-prime customers who only care about ‘the monthly payment’.

3) You have enough seasonal dealers, overseas buyers, and funny money that the laws of economics no longer apply.

Now having said that, I ended up buying five vehicles at one sale recently. My purchases were…

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  • KOKing I car-sat an A32 while its owner was out of the country, and the then whiz-bang VQ motor was great, but the rest of it wasn't any better than a XV10 or XV20. Definitely the start of its downward slide, unfortunately.
  • Norman Stansfield Why are leaf springs still a thing on this truck?
  • Syke The expected opening comments. Have had mine for two years now, the car has done exactly what I want out of it, and a little better. I'm quite happy with the car, haven't had to adjust my driving style or needs in the slightest, and . . . . oh, did a mention that I don't give a damn what today's price at the pump is?Probably going to go for a second one in the coming year, the wife's happy enough with mine that she's ready and willing to trade in the Nissan Kicks. Eventually, the not often used van will end up getting traded on a Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, basically ensuring that we don't use gas for anything except the occasional long trip.And the motorcycles.
  • Bobbysirhan I've never found the Allegro appealing before, but a few years of EV rollouts make it seem downright desirable.
  • Scoutdude I know that dealership. Way back when my friend's grandfather was that Turner that owned the Chrysler Plymouth International dealer, in MacPherson. Of course the International was dropped when they didn't deem the Scout reason enough to keep the franchise. I moved from there in late 1978 so it is possible I saw this running around town way back when.