By on April 24, 2017

2017 Cadillac CT6 Plug-In Culver City - Image: Cadillac“Levels that were once seen as excessive are now sustainable.”
—Uwe Ellinghaus, Chief Marketing Officer, Cadillac

Cadillac expects to see auto sales in the United States in calendar year 2017 fall just below 2016’s best-ever results, which GM’s premium brand considers a positive sign for the U.S. auto industry and Cadillac.

While the decline reported America’s auto industry in March 2017 drew headlines because 2017’s first-quarter encompassed three consecutive months of year-over-year decline, Cadillac’s chief marketing officer, Uwe Ellinghaus, views the results through another lens.

“What they call a cooling off I say is the best thing that has ever happened,” Ellinghaus told Automotive News. “We don’t see that the party is over. It’s continuing.”

Cadillac? Party? Huh? (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

2018 Lexus NX front – Image: Lexus

Pretty? No.

Popular? Most definitely. In fact, the Lexus NX is twice as popular as Lexus anticipated.

The Lexus NX, a crossover you must never confuse with the Nissan NX, is marketed in the United States both in NX200t and NX300h variants. At the New York International Auto Show three years ago, Lexus revealed the brand hoped to sell around 26,000 NXs per year; roughly 2,200 per month. At that point, in the lead-up to the NX’s 2014 Q4 launch, there were two schools of thought. One, the NX was so ghastly to behold Lexus surely wouldn’t sell 2,200 per month. Or, because Lexus is such a luxury crossover powerhouse, even the NX — with a face even a mother couldn’t love — will be more popular than Lexus anticipated.

Dealers believed Lexus’ forecast was on the low side.

But could anyone have expected the Lexus NX would be more than twice as popular as originally forecasted; that the Lexus NX would be America’s fifth-best-selling luxury utility vehicle; that the NX would account for one-in-five Lexus sales in America? (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

2017 Mazda 3 5-door – Image: Mazda

Mazda hasn’t always proven capable of winning hearts and minds in the U.S. marketplace. But in buff book comparison tests, Mazda possesses a recipe for success.

Possessed.

Nine months ago, for instance, a 2016 Mazda 3 i Grand Touring spanked the Nissan Sentra and scored substantial victories over the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze LT and 2017 Hyundai Elantra Limited in a five-car Car And Driver comparison test. Only the 2016 Honda Civic EX came close. Car And Driver was quite right in pointing out the Mazda 3 overachieved “in a world where excellence isn’t always rewarded with sales.” TTAC’s east coast reviewers came to the same conclusion four months ago.

Indeed, U.S. sales of the Mazda 3 fell to a 10-year low in 2016. Now, with sales in 2017 on track to fall to a 13-year low, the Mazda 3 has lost a comparison test.

And not just to one car, but two. (Read More…)

By on April 6, 2017

2017 Ford F-350 Super Duty King Ranch - Image: Ford

In March 2017, for the second time in three months, the Ford F-Series range generated more total U.S. sales than the entire General Motors pickup truck lineup.

Total F-Series sales jumped 10 percent to 81,330 units in March, a total that far eclipsed the 71,786-unit figure achieved by the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Chevrolet Colorado, and GMC Canyon — combined. The F-Series’ 10-percent jump occurred as GM pickup sales tumbled 13 percent; as the total truck market grew just 2 percent, year-over-year.

The F-Series’ March performance also represented its sixth consecutive monthly improvement, a sign of consistent growth that suggests Ford may well sell 900,000 pickup trucks in 2017.

Moreover, the F-Series’ consistent growth was cemented in March even as midsize pickup sales growth hit the skids.

New Ranger?

Ach, who needs it? (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2017

2016 Chevrolet SS - Image: GM

The Chevrolet SS is not what you’d call common. Since launching more than three years ago, only around 9,000 SSs had been sold through the end of February 2017.

There’s always been a righteous hankering for the Chevrolet SS among those in the know. Sure, the bland styling does it no favours. And at nearly $50,000, it lacks any semblance of a premium badge. But there’s a stonking great 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8, rear-wheel drive, and manual transmission availability. It’s a BMW M5 at half the price.

Yet the Chevrolet SS has never managed to enter the public consciousness, and even in its best-ever month (April 2016) the Chevrolet SS was outsold by low-volume cars such as the Lexus GS, Volvo S60, BMW i3, Lexus RC, Nissan Leaf, Scion FR-S, and yes, even the Lincoln MKS.

Now, however, the Chevrolet SS has come to the end of its run. The chance to snap up an SS is fleeting. Naturally then, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet SS exploded in March 2017. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2017

2017 Toyota Camry - Image: Toyota

Reaching the end of the line before an all-new 2018 model launches, the outgoing Toyota Camry is — quite predictably — losing sales. After all, the auto industry’s total sales volume is shrinking. Passenger cars, in particular, are paying a price. And the midsize segment is stumbling all the more so. With all these factors contributing, of course the Camry is shedding volume.

Aged, outdated, and antiquated, the Toyota Camry seemingly has the most to lose. Yet despite a 4-percent year-over-year U.S. sales loss in March 2017 and a 13-percent decline through the first-quarter of 2017, the Toyota Camry is gaining heaps of market share in America’s midsize sedan segment, not losing it.

That’s because the cars that are most to blame for the midsize sedan segment’s rapid decline don’t sit at the top of the leaderboard, but rather hail from the JV squad.  (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2017

2017 Volkswagen model range – Image: Volkswagen

March 2017’s U.S. auto sales volume dropped nearly 2 percent compared with March 2016, failing to live up to forecasts that expected March to be the best end to the first-quarter in nearly two decades.

Despite record volume at Nissan and Infiniti, continued growth at Subaru, meaningful gains at Buick, GMC, Dodge, Mitsubishi, and Ram, a third consecutive month of improvement at Mazda, and minor improvements at numerous other brands, auto sales fell below March 2016 levels because of declines at Ford, Toyota, and Fiat Chrysler. Hyundai and Kia combined for an 11-percent slide.

A third consecutive month of year-over-year decline for the industry suggests doom and gloom, as does the fact that inventories are ballooning and incentives are rising. Auto sales remain high, however, and only in comparison with 2016 — a banner year for the industry — do sales appear poor. Through the first-quarter of 2017, U.S. auto sales are down by less than 2 percent. (Read More…)

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