Tag: Industry

By on May 6, 2019

While electric vehicles have improved by every metric, sourcing the raw materials necessary for their production hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, with more mobile devices and EVs on the market than ever before, automotive batteries are becoming harder to procure with any reliability. Volkswagen Group, which has been on a tear to promote electrification following its diesel emissions crisis, knows this better than anyone.

Audi’s all-electric E-Tron SUV experienced several delays after VW Group encountered trouble in sourcing batteries at a reasonable price. As the company continues endorsing EVs as an important part of its future, its rhetoric is beginning to soften — with the company now taking another look at hydrogen fuel cell technology.  (Read More…)

By on March 27, 2019

2017 Jeep Compass Trailhawk - Image: © Timothy Cain

Let’s get one thing clear right off the bat: unless otherwise stated, the “SUVs” mentioned in automotive studies refer to all utility vehicles, regardless of unibody or body-on-frame construction.

Utility sales surpassed passenger car sales in the U.S. in 2016 and never looked back. There’s an ever-growing number of them out there, and, with automakers now straddling segments (the Mazda CX-30, for example), expect the market swamping to continue apace. In a new Cox Automotive study that contrasts today’s market with 2008’s (while taking a peak at the future), the answer to the question “Has the SUV market peaked?” is most definitely “no.”

The market has legs, but the passage of time means it’s showing signs of saturation —  with a number of headwinds now buffeting automakers looking to clean up in this ultra competitive field. (Read More…)

By on March 25, 2019

2019 Nissan LEAF Plus - Image: NissanWhat does the electric car market look like? And what does the electric car market look like where you live?

Those two closely worded questions may well produce dramatically different answers.

Read enough hot takes on Twitter, unempirical features in tech media, and opinion pieces in the mainstream media and you could be left believing there’s no one left in need of a pickup truck, no one who needs to drive any meaningful distance, no one whose vehicular needs couldn’t be met by a scooter, and certainly no one who wouldn’t be satisfied by a sketchily-built electric car with disappearing doorhandles.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the origins of such beliefs, in part, stem from the locations in which they’re written: San Francisco, Manhattan, and Los Angeles, for example.

But what does the electric car market look like outside of the urban bubble? (Read More…)

By on February 14, 2019

FCA Brampton Assembly Line Challenger & 300 - Image: FCA

General Motors’ decision to stop the flow of product to Ontario’s Oshawa Assembly plant by the end of 2019 has the province’s government promising cash and a slew of measures to keep the auto industry alive north of the border.

Ontario holds the bulk of Canada’s auto-related manufacturing jobs, with the sector adding up to nearly one-fifth of the province’s manufacturing GDP. Vehicles and parts made up 28 percent of its trade exports in 2015. On Thursday, the Ontario government rolled out the first phase of a 10-year plan to firm up the industry and make automakers reconsider Mexican investment. (Read More…)

By on January 21, 2019

2017 Nissan Versa Note - Image: NissanAmerica’s demand for subcompact cars tumbled 26 percent in 2018, yet another result that points to the eventual demise of all but a few B-segment cars.

2018’s sharp drop – equal to roughly 94,000 fewer sales in the core eight-car subcompact category – follows an equally harsh decline in 2017, when the segment lost more than 95,000 units. Led by a sharp reduction in sales of the top-selling Nissan Versa and year-over-year percentage declines of more than 29 per cent for the Chevrolet Sonic, Honda Fit, Hyundai Accent, Toyota Prius C, and Toyota Yaris, the category’s volume has fallen 48 percent since 2014.

And before you say, “Well, cars are all unpopular these days,” keep 2018’s five million-plus car buyers in mind. Car buyers do, in fact, still exist.

But subcompact car buyers are disappearing much, much faster than car buyers at large. And it may well be because the product execution of subcompact cars is really rather poor.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2019

2019 Toyota Prius AWD-e blue - Image: Toyota

When it comes to electric vehicles, Toyota’s North American CEO seems to be on a different page than the company’s big boss, Akio Toyoda. A different page than Ford and General Motors, too. Maybe it’s because Toyoda has the entire globe in his sights, including many EV-hungry markets, while Jim Lentz can only look around, see low, low gas prices and a niche market dominated by a single player, and feel a rush of meh.

Lentz aired his views on our would-be electric future Wednesday, suggesting it would take draconian measures by the government to pry a healthy slice of Americans away from the gas pump. He’s not too enthused with Tesla, either. (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2019

Ford and Volkswagen, two auto giants who spent much of 2018 making eyes at each other and playfully batting away rumors (and sparking a few of their own), might lay their relationship bare in Detroit next week.

The two automakers have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding, partnering initially with the aim of developing joint light commercial vehicles. But that was just the start. Over the course of the past year, this partnership grew to include pickup swaps, electric vehicle platform sharing, joint U.S. plants, and God knows what else — at least according to rumors. Both companies made it clear something big was brewing, but always fell back to a “we’re just talking” line.

Now, it looks like we have a time and place for the announcement. (Read More…)

By on January 7, 2019

2017 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription - Image: Volvo

In the absolutely superb 1949 war film Twelve O’Clock High, a doctor stationed at a U.S. Army Air Force base in WW2 England uses an interesting comparison when describing a character’s mental breakdown.

“Have you ever seen a light bulb burn out? How bright the filament gets right before it breaks?”

A similar phenomenon could be at work in a certain vehicle niche, one which gets more press than actual sales warrant. The lowly, reviled, and suddenly revered station wagon, now referred to in terms meant to dispel the stodgy family hauler image of decades past. (Read More…)

By on January 5, 2019

Don’t worry, it isn’t a long list. You won’t be here all day. While the industry coasted to a surprising, yet slight, year-over-year volume increase in 2018, automakers can’t thank America’s desire for traditional passenger cars for eking out a win. Light trucks carried the day, with car sales plunging to new lows. Industry-wide, U.S. car sales sank 13.1 percent in 2018, pushing their share of the market to just over 31 percent.

Within this soup of sales, a handful of conventional passenger cars exist that held their ground, straining mightily against gale force headwinds. Maybe it’s a futile battle, but it’s worth noting these survivors. (Read More…)

By on December 26, 2018

It’s that special holiday time of year again. For a few short weeks, people go out of their way to be nice to others, and to wish one another the best in the upcoming new year. While the niceness still abounds, we want to know which car manufacturer receives your well-wishes for the future.

(Read More…)

By on December 3, 2018

Image: 2017 Dodge Journey SE, via FCA

Automotive Twitter really is the worst Twitter, for many reasons. First of all, it’s not very “automotive.” With the exception of our dear friend, Bozi Tatarevic, who is a must-follow for his encyclopedic knowledge and Holmesian sleuthing skills, nearly every other autowriter on Twitter views the platform as an opportunity to share the wonkiest political views possible. When they aren’t doing that, they’re all sipping from the same “I am an expert on financial matters but I also dress like a flood victim” Kool-Aid, chanting the same mantra over and over.

Last week was particularly objectionable, what with the GM decision to mostly abandon passenger cars in favor of light and heavy trucks. “People are buying the wrong cars!” they shout to their literally dozens of followers. “Crossover bad! Car good!” they shriek, neglecting to share with you that nearly all of them are childless and nary a one of them has ever tried to fit a collapsing stroller, a diaper bag, and a breast pump into the trunk of a Miata. One particularly stupid individual compared the nation’s overwhelming preference for crossovers to its preference for superhero movies over art films. Sigh.

It takes roughly three functioning brain cells to understand that crossovers are a better fit for the majority of flyover country than small cars are. Of course, once you understand that the majority of the major digital automotive press in this country is based in New York, then it’s not hard to understand that they can’t see outside of their bubbles. You certainly don’t need something like a Chevy Traverse if you are a childless man with a domestic partner who lives in a third-floor Brooklyn walkup with no available parking. But when you live in suburban Indiana with your three kids, all of whom have multiple after school activities, well, crossovers make a little more sense. And since childless couples in NY don’t buy cars and soccer moms in Indiana do, well, it only makes sense that the General is gonna listen to Jennifer from Carmel.

I, however, tend to think that there is an even more sinister goal behind the switch from cars to crossovers. I think it’s to prepare people for the (possibly never) upcoming switch to self-driving cars. Allow me to elaborate.

(Read More…)

By on November 21, 2018

In a Question of the Day post earlier this month, Matthew Guy inquired about the manufacturer which had the greatest number of great cars in their company’s history.

Today we’re going to flip it, and talk about all the awful things. Prepare your fingers for the incoming salt.

(Read More…)

By on November 16, 2018

Image: Toyota

The best-selling passenger car in America for the past 15 years isn’t selling like it once was, and it’s all your fault. With the car-buying populace increasingly wooed by do-everything crossovers and trucks, the Toyota Camry isn’t flying off dealer lots in the same volume as before, and, because of this, the automaker has made the decision to slow production of the mighty midsizer.

What are people buying instead of the Camry? A lot of things, but loyal Toyota owners are increasingly heading over to the RAV4 for their grocery-getting duties. (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2018

Herbert Diess Jetta 2017

Through the end of October, Volkswagen of America’s efforts to gain a 5 percent share of the country’s new vehicle market (by 2020) continued apace, with sales up 5 percent over the same period a year earlier. This sales bump has two crossovers to thank, not cars.

No, definitely not cars.

Still, VW CEO Herbert Diess, when questioned about the brand’s slowly deflating car lineup, doesn’t believe the future involves a light truck-only landscape. To him, the limitations of existing battery technology means future buyers won’t decrease their horizons just for the sake of cargo space. The sedan, Diess claims, is probably not in danger. (Read More…)

By on October 22, 2018

Flat new vehicle sales and an industry that’s far more interested in making crossover lovers’ dreams come true add up to a poor environment for a traditional new car buyer.

We’ve already told you how high demand for a shrinking supply of off-lease sedans and hatchbacks has sent used car prices through the roof compared to just a few years ago. That erased a go-to option for many thrifty buyers. In the new car market, however, automakers’ need to boost profits in a stagnant market means incentive spending is dropping as fast as used car prices are rising.

It’s not just sedans that saw a decline in discounts last month. (Read More…)

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