TTAC commentator David Holzman writes:
I have a new (to me) ’08 Civic LX 1.8 liter, stick, bought with 35k on the clock. The previous owner was a woman who traded it for a RAV4 I think (I bought the car from a Toyota dealer). I’m guessing partly based on gender stereotypes that she wasn’t availing herself of the high revs to flog a lot of performance out of the car.
Toyota decided to postpone construction of a new plant in Tianjin, China, and is considering the delay of another new plant in Guangzhou, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun writes, quoting unidentified sources. This due to sluggish vehicle sales in the wake of anti-Japan protests over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands dispute, Asahi Shimbun’s sources said.
After taking you on a World roundup last time, I thought this week we would go back home and explore the best-selling cars in our own backyard.
Boring? That’s OK. You can visit 170 additional countries and territories in my blog in the comfort of your own lounge. Simple really.
Back to the backyard.
And the stars of the month are the Ford F-Series (expected), Honda Civic (not expected) and Dodge Dart (or not).
Cue up Rossini’s William Tell Overture, folks, ‘cause the Lone Raider RIDES AGAIN!!
I enjoyed Murilee’s Junkyard Find’s feature last week, on this very example of Mitsubishi/Chrysler joint venture off-roadness. One of the things it motivated me to do was to check out the model that’s been seen tooling around my Eastern Sierra hangout.
Initially, I assumed it was a Montero, due to the well-documented scarcity of the Dodge version. Finding it parked close to my coffee stop allowed for a closer inspection, which revealed what you see right here in this entry of Bodacious Beaters.
Despite previous calls for his ouster, Fiat’s CEO Sergio Marchionne was elected for another year as president of the influential European auto trade group ACEA, Reuters reports. In July, Volkswagen demanded Marchionne’s head after he had accused Volkswagen of exploiting the European crisis to gain market share by offering aggressive discounts.
Aston Martin won’t be sold to the Indians, nor will it be sold to the Chinese. The low-intensity bidding war for the British boutique sports car maker was won by the Italian private equity group Investindustrial. It is buying 37.5 percent for $241 million via a capital increase agreed with majority Kuwaiti owner Investment Dar, Reuters reports after having received confirmation by Aston Martin.
In September, formerly red-hot sales of Japanese cars in China began to crater after cars were turned over and dealerships torched as fallout of a diplomatic row between Japan and China. Sales were down by about a half in October, and a little less than a third in November. At TTAC, we were skeptical that sales will be back to their old glory in a few months. A high ranking Toyota executive said for the first time that it will take long to recover.
Many people don’t realize that most of the “import” cars bought and sold in America no longer roll off a boat, but off an assembly line somewhere in the American heartland. Or at least in the North American heartland. It comes as an even bigger surprise that these cars are one of America’s most successful export products, going from American ports to many countries in the world – where people often are likewise ignorant of the car’s American origin.
While Japan may be a “closed market” in the eyes of some, imported cars from America are all the rage in South Korea. Honda is planning on sending no fewer than six American-made cars; the Civic, Accord, Odyssey, CR-V, Crosstour and Pilot will all be sent to South Korea as Honda attempts to become a net exporter of American made vehicles.
Usually, China gets accused of copying from America. This time, U.S. lawmakers will itch to copy a new Chinese law that comes in effect on January 1. Stealing this idea could help solve the current cash flow problems in Washington, and could provide a happy ending to the DC fiscal cliff-hanger. It also could provide an elegant way to eliminate disagreeable competitors. Car companies would not like it at all.
I always notice the Cressida when I see an example in a wrecking yard, and the last two years have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of Toyota’s pre-Lexus rear-drive luxury sedan going to The Crusher. I suppose that means that the balance between real-world value and cost to fix mechanical problems has finally tilted against the Cressida. We’ve seen this ’80, this ’84, this ’87, this ’89, and this ’92 in the Junkyard Find Series so far, and now we’re going to go all Malaise Era with today’s ’82.
Toyota dropped out of Formula One in 2009, and said it won’t come back , claiming that the sports is “too elistist” and out of touch with Toyota’s customers. Now, the company is dropping hints that the door is not closed forever. Asked by The Nikkei [sub] whether Toyota might come back to the sport, Toyota Managing Officer Kiyotaka Ise was much less dismissive than in the past:
It’s your boy, JB. You know, the guy who isn’t allowed on your press trips any more. I’m not sure exactly why. It has something to do with me supposedly misusing one of your complimentary hotel rooms as a place to do something besides examine the press kit. I don’t know why it’s a big deal. You’re acting like I put on a satin “dragon suit”, performed immoral deeds using a mudshark, and/or threw a TV out the window. That didn’t happen. I specifically left my satin dragon suit at home that weekend so I can say for sure that it didn’t happen. Maybe that wasn’t it at all. I don’t know. We don’t need to discuss it now. Just censure me and move on.
Plus, it isn’t like you guys haven’t made mistakes yourselves, and more recently, too. I mean, Jimmy Fallon? Curating Tweets? CURATING TWEETS? JIMMY FALLON “CURATING” TWEETS? I need you to stop reading this letter right now so you can go home, cut out a section of your garden hose and savagely beat whoever came up with that idea until they can’t walk any more. Wait. Make that “type”. Can’t type any more. That’s especially important. Because I think that idea probably originated with them typing an e-mail to someone, and until that can’t happen again none of us are safe.
Buried In the depths of General Motor’s quarterly results is a routine litany of negative factors that could severely hamper the company’s future. One of them is “Significant changes in economic, political and market conditions in China.” GM intently monitors what is happening to Japanese brands in China, and it has more reason to watch with worries than with glee. What is happening to Toyota, Honda, and Nissan right now could just as easily happen to GM. The Japanese might shake off the troubles – Japanese makers have seen worse in the very recent past. GM would be brought to its knees by a boycott of American cars in China. Quite possibly, one of the reasons behind the whole anti-Japanese exercise is to say “look what could happen to you.” Government Motors finds itself at the mercy of China.
Nominations for the TWATs have been extended until midnight. One last chance to get those nominations in before voting begins. Check out our full list of nominees below. Remember the rules; you can add, but nothing will be subtracted. Vehicles must have been on sale starting January 1, 2012. Voting will begin this week as we configure our polling software against unwarranted manipulation – if it can happen to TIME Magazine, it can happen here.
Chinese sales of Japanese makes continue to suffer from the fallout of the islands row. Toyota told Reuters that Chinese sales were down 22.1 percent YoY in November. Mazda’s China sales were down 29.7 percent compared to November last year, Reuters says. The severity of the drops has lessened, but it will be a while until Japanese brands return to their regular growth pattern in China.
Some forecasters expected Japan’s appetite for new cars to drop by more than 20 percent in the last quarter after government incentives expired in September. So far, it is not happening. Sales of new cars, trucks and buses declined a minuscule 0.4 percent in November. Elsewhere you may read that the market was down 3.3 percent, but they are not giving you the whole story. Sales of mini vehicles, or kei cars actually were up in November, pulling the market nearly completely out of minus territory.
TTAC Commentator Ryoku75 writes:
Thanks for your response on my question on modern car grilles, you make a good point on modern cars being a bit taller up-front than needed. Now, I own an ’89 Toyota Tercel that needs a rear wheel bearing and exhaust (muffler, piping), otherwise it works fine and has 125k.
No car in recent history must have been so relentlessly covered at TTAC as the Toyota 86 and its dizzying assemblage of names and numbers. I don’t think there is an editor at TTAC who hasn’t reviewed the car at least three times. All except me. I only reviewed it twice. Something had to be done …
Dear reader, be warned: This review of a sports car with a multiple persona syndrome concentrates mostly on seating arrangements and extraneous observations in the field of bears, bodies, far-eastern religions, man-machine romance, and sex. You may miss some of the driving impressions commonly supplied. If you are interested in those, they are provided here, and here, and here. And especially here. You are welcome. Some of the more than 30 pictures may gross you out.
A couple of years ago, I attended my last General Motors press event. It was the debut of the Cadillac CTS-v Coupe and it was held at the Monticello country-club racetrack. I recall being impressed with the car, and I recall being impressed with Mark Reuss, the second-generation GM executive who brought his own helmet and his Grand-Am license to the event. Like Bob Lutz, Reuss is a big, handsome, improbably wealthy fellow who travels with a personal assistant, speaks in a no-nonsense tone, and carries himself with impervious confidence.
My attitude to the superstar dudes of the industry closely parallels that of O’Shea Jackson (warning: listening to that song at work will GET YOU FIRED) so I didn’t bother to chat Mr. Reuss up until we found ourselves side by side in the airport terminal. I asked him his opinion of the handling differences between the various CTS bodystyles, listened to him tell a couple of stories about road racing, and received some mild chastisement for turfing “his” Cadillac at high speed. It wasn’t until my flight home was halfway over that I realized: Yeah, he’s a great guy, but his company is failing miserably and he really isn’t doing anything to stop it. GM is chock-full of likable, even admirable people who are nevertheless collectively part of a great tragedy. It really doesn’t matter how “cool” a guy like Mark Reuss is. He’s being beaten out of his socks by “uncool” people at other companies, and as automotive journalists we’re not serving the truth if we don’t remind our readers of that simple fact every time it’s necessary. Every single time. Even if nobody else is willing to discuss the enormous elephant in the room — you know, the one with “18% Market Share” and “Bailout” and “Worst Product Line In the Industry” tattooed all over its wrinkly bottom.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about the new “Chevrolet SS”.
TrueDelta has updated the stats from its Car Reliability Survey to cover through the end of September, 2012.
Elsewhere you’ll read that, for the 2013 Mazda CX-5, “first year reliability has been well above average.” We can’t tell you how the CX-5 performed during its first year, since the first few cars only arrived at dealers late last February (less than two months before that other survey was conducted). We can tell you that, in the seven months after the first Mazdas were delivered, few of them required repairs. Same conclusion, just an average of 3.5 months of data per car instead of a couple of weeks.
We came within a response or two of having a full result for the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports cars. Through the end of September they were looking better than average. But enough owners have recently reported problems with tail light condensation and a chirping fuel pump (the latter probably experienced in our press fleet pre-production car) that their score will worsen with future updates. If no further problems creep up they’ll have middling-to-poor scores for a few quarters, after which they could regain a better-than-average stat.
Sometimes promises are kept in the car design biz: the 2013 Civic sounds like a big step up from this 2012 model. Which was a big step down from the ’70s concept car chic of the 8th generation Civic. Aside from Wayne Cherry’s professional nightmare, how often does a manufacturer make such significant changes after one year of production? This model insulted more than one autojourno and countless fanbois, apparently Honda doesn’t mess around when reputation and $$$ are on the line. But just how bad was it in 2012?
The AAA asked the U.S. government to prohibit the sale of E15. Only about 5 percent of the 240 million light duty vehicles on U.S. roads today are approved by manufacturers to run on the gasoline that contains 15 percent alcohol, and the other 95 percent could be ruined by the wicked fuel, says the AAA. The industry agrees.
A struggling domestic auto industry long past its glory days of big rear-drive sedans is at an existential cross-roads. An upcoming election may decide the fate of thousands of jobs and decades of motoring history. Sound familiar? The madness of America’s election is over, but the same scenario is playing out in Australia.
“Who’s next?” This is the number one topic at the Los Angeles auto show. After Hyundai had to restate its MPG numbers and pay compensation to customers, executives and analysts are convinced that more automakers may have to do the same, reports the well-connected Reuters reporter Bernie Woodall from the back-rooms and cocktail parties in LA.
Ford has set itself an ambitious target. According to a Reuters report,the company “expects to wind up with 11 percent of the U.S. market for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles this year.” Not next year. This year. By our calculation, Ford would have to sell more than 50,000 of the electrified cars this year to stand a chance. By end of October, it had sold a little over 20,000. They better get going.
Since my brain threw a code and made me buy the 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe Junkyard Find yesterday, I need to choose a suitable modern engine and transmission combo for the thing. I’ve hired a rocket scientist and weirdo hot-rodder (the lunatic who built the Rocket Surgery Racing mid-engined Renault 4CV) to execute a chassis modernization program on the old Mopar, and I need to make my drivetrain choice ASAP. Suggestions?
A few weeks ago, Toyota’s CFO Satoshi Ozawa told an astounded press corps (and I paraphrase for brevity): “Sure, the riots in China have an effect, but we’ll make it up elsewhere in the world.” Today, we have the data that prove Ozawa-san right. What’s more, he could have spoken for all his Japanese peers. Yes, the boycott of Japanese cars in China caused drastic cutbacks at large Japanese automakers. However, all are doing so gulpingly well elsewhere that a buyer strike in the world’s largest car market turns into nothing more than a hiccup.
Yes it is that time of the month, the time for our acclaimed monthly rendezvous: the World Roundup, now in its 8th installment.
Last month the Ford Focus’ success in China made the headlines, and in October it does again…but the heat is also on in Japan and Austria…
So I’ve still got an Integra GS-R engine sitting in my garage, waiting to be swapped into my hooptie ’92 Civic DX— because the fifth-gen Civic, with its ease of parts-swapping and galaxy of aftermarket stuff, is to the present day what the ’55 Chevy was to the 1970s— and when that happens I’ll need better brakes, right? Problem is, whenever a third-gen Acura Integra (which was a fifth-gen Civic with luxury and performance upgrades) shows up at a cheap self-service junkyard, it gets picked clean faster than just about anything this side of a Toyota Land Cruiser. It’s much like a ’55 Chevy owner in 1974, discovering an intact 396/4-speed Caprice 20 minutes after the car hit the yard at the U-Yank-It. When I found an intact ’94 Integra while on a Junkyard Find photo expedition at the Denver yard near my place, I knew I had to work fast.
The late Gore Vidal was fond of saying, “Gratitude can be a complicated thing.”
He was right. Whether you are a hater, or simply a chronic critic, the act of complimenting those who follow the beat of a different drummer is usually not within the tip of the human tongue.
We want things our way… and sometimes we’re just plain wrong.
My experience with the Lexus IS-F was both impressive and rather sterile. I was put in mind of Samuel Johnson’s observation regarding Milton’s Paradise Lost: “[it is] one of the books which the reader admires and puts down, and forgets to take up again. None ever wished it longer than it is.”
The same might be true of the IS-F… but here’s a fast Lexus that’s not just longer, it’s wider. And taller. And just plain big.
Mahindra Tractor in Ferrari livery
Mumbai tractor moguls Mahindra & Mahindra hope to emerge as owners of Aston Martin by the end of the week, but Italy’s InvestIndustrial shares the same aspirations, reports Reuters from the sidelines of the bidding war for the British sports car maker. While the world waits for the hammer to come down, scientists make a perplexing discovery.
A sports car. A luxury car. A truck. A car for third-world nations. And yet CCS never gave me a project that said, “lower your standards and design a great rental car” for a week of studio work. Does anyone design anything with unloved dispensability in mind? But I see it that way: leaving the design world to (eventually) to flash my MBA with an occasional corporate trip…with the obligatory rental car. But how pretty is the Queen?
The fleet queen that is.
Nissan’s Infiniti is joining high-powered nameplates such as Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes and becomes title sponsor of a Formula One racing team. Under a four year contract, the highly successful Red Bull Racing team will change its name to Infiniti Red Bull Racing starting with the 2013 season.
The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show is upon us, and as usual, TTAC will have photographers in the field, complete with live shots of all the new debuts, while we provide anger-tinged appraisals of all the new debuts. Press days don’t start for another couple of days, but we’ve got a rundown of what to expect after the jump.
The words “Mazda” and “premium” will be forever linked with the stillborn Amati brand in the mind of car enthusiasts. Cancelled at the 11th hour, Amati was supposed to be Mazda’s luxury brand that would go head to head with Infiniti, Lexus and Acura. All we got out of it was the Millenia.
TTAC Commentator theduke writes:
I bought a 2003 Subaru Legacy SE sedan a little while back for my girlfriend. It has the “Phase 2” EJ25 SOHC motor. Living in Michigan the AWD is nice, and it was a one owner car with documented service history and I got a good price. The car has 105,000 miles on it, and the previous owner had the head gaskets and timing belts replaced about 10k miles ago by the Subaru dealer.
Last time I shared with you 10 things I don’t understand. Today I suggest we simply check out what are the Top 150 best-selling cars worldwide. Too lofty an ambition for you? That’s ok, you can check out 170 countries and territories in my blog, all from the comfort of your home. Or today I can also offer you the 264 best-selling models in the USA in October 2012. Every single one of them.
Back to the world.
Something big has happened in the world.
Up till now there hasn’t been a “real” Prius alternative on the market. Sure Honda has the Civic and Insight, but their real-world MPGs can’t hold a candle to the green-car poster child and Honda’s IMA hybrid system is far from smooth and refined. The Volt is more of a novelty with its lofty price tag and the last time we tested one we revealed a lowly 32MPG average when running gasoline only. This brings us to the blue oval. Despite Ford using essentially the same technology as Toyota for their hybrid systems, Ford resisted creating a dedicated hybrid model. Until now. Meet the 47MPG 2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid. Of course we’ve all heard the news that the C-MAX doesn’t hit 47MPG, so click-through the jump to find out what we averaged and whether or not that should matter to you.
Ford will have to deviate from its “One Ford” strategy if it wants to break into the Chinese market in a serious way, says Reuters. Ford is developing what it calls a “Value B” model that is aimed at the increasingly important sub $10,000 market in China. And that’s only the beginning …
The boycott of Japan-branded cars by Chinese customers appears to be abating faster than feared by some, but not as fast as hoped by others. Nissan expects its November sales in China to be down by approximately 25 percent, Hideki Kimata, senior general manager of Nissan’s joint venture with Dongfeng, told Reuters. Yesterday, Mazda’s China chief said he expects sales in China to be down by around 35 percent in November.
One of the reasons for Volkswagen’s current strength dates back four years. During the carmageddon of 2008 ff, multinational carmakers such as GM and Toyota drastically cut back investments into new cars and technologies. Volkswagen did not change R&D spending. Four years later, this translates into a host of new models, and revolutionary platform architectures (MQB, MLB, MSB) that promise even more new models at lower cost.
Toyota will launch two China-only brands next year, one for each of its two Chinese joint ventures, a Toyota executive told Reuters today. Toyota had been one of the last hold-outs in the China-only business, after most other makers had caved in to the strong suggestions of the Chinese government that China-only brands are good for the Chinese joint venture.
If over the last few weeks we have travelled to Iraq, Poland, Australia and China, you can also check out 167 additional countries and territories in my blog, all from the comfort of your home. Or if all that matters to you is the United States of A (yes you at the back – I know that’s what you’re thinking), I can offer you the 264 best-selling models in the USA in October 2012. Every single one of them.
But I have something different for you today.
Over the years there has been a few things I haven’t got my head around. Simple things, odd things or stupid things. They have been like a nagging voice in the back of my head. So I decided to put them all in one article on here. Now the tone is definitely tongue in cheek, I know most answers to these questions are cost-related, but that’s boring. So enjoy!
1. Why are the Americans not stuck in the fifties?
Earlier this year, Subaru was denied approval for a new factory by the Chinese government. The rationale behind the move was that Fuji Heavy, parent company of Subaru, and Toyota, were already too cozy, and that a Subaru factory would give Toyota one too many joint ventures in China. And then the boycott happened.
It’s the perfect day and the perfect road for a brisk mountain drive in the siena red Z3. For the last time this year it’s easily warm enough to put the top down—in a little over a week the remnants of Hurricane Sandy will bury the area in snow. WV15 winds tightly along a mountain ridge, flanked on each side by peaking fall foliage. Valleys far below on each side, you’re on top of the world. There’s only one problem with this soul stirring picture: my father started the day closer to Cass, and the BMW is holding me up. With the next brief straight I snick the firm, short-throw shifter into third, spur the boxer well over 4,000 rpm, and roar past him. WV15 is an even better road for a Scion FR-S en route to meet up with a pair of Mazda RX-8s for our Third Annual Appalachian Road Trip.
The bidding kept going down and down at the inop auction. A sale where all cars are usually either dead or dying.
“$200! would-a-give-me $200! $100! $100! How about-a-hundred!”
Pretty soon the bidding went all the way down to $50. For a whole car! No takers. No sale. Until…
GM added more capacity to its Chinese Baojun brand by opening a factory in Liuzhou, southern China. Plant and brand are part of the SAIC GM Wuling joint venture, where GM holds 44 percent, SAIC 50 percent, with 6 percent held by Wuling.
Baojun started with the Baojun 630, a compact sedan based on an older Buick Excelle/Daewoo Lancetti platform, later the Le Chi was added, a rebadged Chevrolet Spark. By 2015, Baojun wants to have a total of five models, Reuters says.
Baojun is one of China’s joint venture brands, which we at TTAC like to call “fake Chinese brands.”