It seems most Americans are continuing to hang onto their cars for extended periods of time, with a new report suggesting the nation’s average vehicle age is 12.5 years. According to the crew at S&P Global Mobility, it’s the sixth straight year this number has increased.
Don’t say we don’t read yer comments. Last week’s report on the state of American car sales during the first quarter of this year was absent the usual Excel chart o’ numbers thanks to a phalanx of manufacturers choosing to release figures at their leisure.
Here’s the chart, nerds – complete with snazzy up and down arrows.
Have we mentioned it’s a weird time in the automotive industry? New car supply seems to ricochet between firehose and non-existent, interest rates are higher than Willie Nelson, and let’s not mention that coffee in the dealership waiting area. Still, it is our job to try and suss through this noise – even if auto companies are getting increasingly lax with their number reporting, a task they once undertook every ten days. Now we’re lucky to get a glimpse four times a year.
See? Told ya it was weird.
After taking a drubbing in 2021, the last annum was also a headache for most of the world’s automakers. Nevertheless, General Motors has narrowly retaken the title of America’s best-selling car company after losing it last year for the first time since the Great Depression.
If recent global events have taught us anything about the auto industry, it’s that unpredictability is the new norm. Gone are the days when one could confidently muse about the fortunes of one brand over another, replaced by erratic parts shortages and inconsistent volume of supply.
Still, some are weathering the storm better than others.
It seems this calendar year will improve in terms of supply chain challenges for many auto manufacturers, with a general consensus that new chip sources will alleviate some of last year’s snarls. Still, one forward-looking group of analysts have peered into a crystal ball and determined all hands might not be out of the woods quite yet.
It will surprise exactly zero of our readers that prices of second-hand vehicles are through the roof. A constricted new car supply which leads to a dearth of trade-ins has contributed to customers facing the prospect of paying exorbitant sums for previously loved vehicles. Now, a new stat from Edmunds.com puts a precise number on the issue.
Fresh off its megabucks IPO in which the company’s fortunes skyrocketed like your author’s blood pressure after a meal of fried foods, rumors are floating that Rivian is planning another factory. Suggested as being located in Georgia, it would play partner to the existing facility in Illinois.
Believe it or not, the ubiquitous RAV4 has been around for two-and-a-half decades, appearing on the scene as a right-sized trucklet available in either two- or four-door guise. Remember when the RAV could be had with a removable roof? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
Twenty-five years on, the model has grown in size and cemented itself as a leader in its segment. Fun fact: the original four-door RAV was just 162 inches long, about two feet shorter than a Camry of the day, on a wheelbase of 94.5 inches. For 2022, Toyota has added a couple of extra trims and fiddled with some of its styling details.
Last night’s unveiling of the new Integra in L.A. wasn’t a surprise, given the number of teasers released by Acura over the last few weeks. There was a general consensus it would be a four-door hatchback of some ilk, and would very likely share many parts with other members of the House of Honda.
The 2023 Integra (technically a prototype but we all know that 99.9 percent of this vehicle will make production) did indeed appear as a four-door hatch – thankfully not as a tall-riding crossover – complete with a turbocharged engine and manual transmission. This didn’t stop keyboard warriors bleating from the depth of their parent’s basement that “ThIs Iz NoT a ReEl AcUrA” thanks to the 2023’s abundance of doors compared to the 3rd-gen coupe everyone remembers.
Here’s a newsflash for all those nimrods: The Integra has always been available with four doors.
Having noticed that Washington got a bit of publicity for vowing to ban all vehicles reliant on internal combustion after 2030, a dozen other American states decided it would be a good idea to reaffirm their own religious-like commitment to the environment by saying they too will be restricting your choice of automobiles by 2035.
The coalition of states — most of which don’t have a populace that’s dependent on automotive manufacturing for work — also formally asked the Biden administration to introduce standards that would obligate the United States to ban everything that emits smoke within the next fifteen years. Many activist groups are calling it a heroic act, though it’s difficult to recall any parables where the hero went around banning things and also represented an institutional power structure.
To say the American auto industry faced challenges in 2020 is on par with saying the Pontiac Aztek was only a little bit ahead of its time. Or that Carlos Ghosn is only slightly irritated at some of his former Nissan colleagues.
Predictions of how each company (and the market as a whole) would fare in the face of everything 2020 had to offer came and went and were revised and them were revised again. Finally, after what can only be described as a ‘tactical delay’ by a couple of big-name manufacturers in releasing their data, we have a full and complete picture.
Perhaps surprisingly, it isn’t as dire as some of us feared.
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