By on February 6, 2019

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass - Image: Jeep

While North American conversations about the auto industry usually center around the public’s swing away from cars, Europe’s doing all sorts of of swinging these days. There’s a battle raging between cars and light trucks, sure, but also between propulsion types.

Once dominated by diesel, Europeans are shedding oil burners in favor of cars powered by gasoline and electricity. What’s hot these days? Not cars, but crossovers sure are. Jeep deserves recognition for its market share gains. And EVs? Buyers picked up 47 percent more of those last year. (Read More…)

By on January 8, 2019

When you’re already big, it’s hard to notice much of a change in any direction. This goes as much for the human body as it does for auto sales. So it’s no surprise to see that, of the roughly 17.3 million vehicles sold in the U.S. last year, the amount claimed by the Detroit Three didn’t budge all that much from the previous year.

Combined, the three domestic giants took a 44.4 percent slice of the U.S. auto pie, which actually represents a 0.1 percent increase from a year earlier. Combine Tesla’s volume into the American fold, and the stars and stripes collected 45.1 percent of U.S. buyers, or 0.6 percent less than in 2013.

In 2018, General Motors and Ford both ceded ground to a rising Fiat Chrysler, proving that the real action occurs at a lower data level. So, which automakers earned a larger helping of your collective buying love last year? (Read More…)

By on November 12, 2018

nissan leaf charging electric car

Alternative fuel advocates often suggest that if society could simply get the lead out on solving the infrastructure problem, electric vehicle adoption would reach an all-time high. They’re most likely correct, too. With so much of the world set to gradually ban internal combustion vehicles, EV sales are almost assured to rise. But holdouts abound due to electric vehicles’ laundry list of shortcomings.

Electric cars are often more expensive than their combustion counterparts, offer diminished range, take longer to “refuel,” and are subjected to a charging network that’s less robust than than those associated with petroleum. If the industry is to solve those problems, it’s going to need a lot of money. Around $6 trillion should do the trick.  (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2018

mazda cx-5

America knows what it wants, and the rest of the world — even those hard-to-reach places — is beginning to follow. Each week brings us news from far-flung locales pointing to increased demand for affordable crossover vehicles, if not the wholesale abandonment of certain car segments by certain automakers. Basically, the global auto industry in 2018 boils down to this: build a crossover, or become (or remain) a struggling niche company.

It’s hardly a new situation, but it’s hammered home with each passing month — as cars continue trickling out of every parking lot you pass and trunks begin appear on “Missing” posters at the post office.

Given that the compact crossover is arguably the most ubiquitous vehicle on the roads today, your author decided to look at just how prevalent their sales really are. Tossing aside premium or luxury offerings (a category we’ve tossed Buick into), this data dive focuses solely on the mainstream. The results? It’s grim stuff if you’re not the family type, so brace yourself. (Read More…)

By on June 25, 2018

Image: Steph Willems/TTAC

Ugh, you say. Wagons. A painfully uncool body type you swore off during childhood and haven’t reneged on since. A body type drooled over and feted by journalists who never put their meagre income where their mouth is. Yes, wagons. They remain part of our our automotive landscape, just a vanishingly small part of it.

But who’s buying them, and where? We have the answers. (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2018

Image: Volkswagen of America

Volkswagen doesn’t make much of a fuss about becoming the world’s largest automaker these days, mainly because it’s already cleared that hurdle — and in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal, no less. In the United States, however, one long-helg goal remains elusive: reaching a 5 percent market share.

While the automaker claims its top priority is shoring up its U.S. business with new, Americanized product, old dreams die hard. VW still wants the kind of market share it enjoyed in 1970, but it’s not even halfway to reaching that goal. (Read More…)

By on February 16, 2018

2018 GMC Yukon Denali Ultimate Black Edition

We did it! Thanks to the modern obsession with larger vehicles and opulence, domestic luxury brands are taking off like a rocket. It’s going so well, in fact, that American automakers are starting to steal market share from high-end import manufacturers. Of course, this is only applicable to SUV and crossover sales.

As you know, sedan sales are losing ground to their high-riding counterparts. While this hasn’t resulted in the obliteration of the passenger car market, despite claims to the contrary, those vehicles are being massacred by wayward consumers. Sedans are becoming passé and this has allowed sport utility and crossover vehicles to amass a significant portion of the pie.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the luxury market. The rapid growth of the luxury truck segment has substantially increased the United States’ share of domestic models sold with an average transaction price of $60,000 or more. Apparently, the inarguably phenomenal Mercedes-Benz S-Class doesn’t have jack squat on the GMC Yukon Denali.

Suck it, cars.  (Read More…)

By on September 18, 2017

Old Mazda dealer- Burdick Mazda - Image: Mazda“We have been working more closely with our dealers to evolve their businesses and through that process,” Mazda tells Automotive News, “some new dealers have chosen to begin working with us, while others have made the decision to leave the Mazda brand.”

Mazda has been open about its goal of earning 2 percent of the U.S. market while being forthright about the brand’s intentions to do so only on solid ground. This means fewer discounts, a premium vibe, and the kind of higher margins that make dealers happy.

On the dealer side of the equation, Mazda now wants those dealers to improve. In some cases, that means a new location. In others, a new exterior design is necessary. More thoroughly trained staff members is key, as well. But it’ll be slow going. Of Mazda’s roughly 600 dealers, the brand acknowledges that some have forsaken the automaker, though Mazda won’t say how many. Since the efforts to revamp dealers began last year, only 26 have been upgraded so far. By the end of the decade, Mazda believes roughly one-sixth of its network will have undergone a remodel.

In the meantime, Mazda is getting further away from reaching its 2-percent goal. (Read More…)

By on September 1, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas - Image: VolkswagenIn 2009, during the depths of a global financial crisis the likes of which generations had never seen, Volkswagen of America set forth on a nine-year plan that would more than triple sales to 800,000 units in 2018.

Stuff happened. A crisis (or two) got in the way. An overly Americanized product lineup lacking in utility vehicles underachieved. Volkswagen lost its right to sell diesel models in America. Volkswagen will struggle to sell 400,000 new vehicles in the United States in 2018.

Although at first it seemed possible — Volkswagen sales grew far faster than the market as a whole exiting the recession — the 800,000-unit sales goal has long since been abandoned. By 2014, before the diesel emissions scandal even broke, now-departed Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn was questioning the timing of the 800,000-sales goal.

As the summer of 2017 approaches a close, however, Volkswagen’s global boss Herbert Diess has a new, seemingly unrealistic goal for the brand’s U.S. operations, Bloomberg reports. With a stronger SUV lineup, Volkswagen wants to grow its U.S. market share to 5 percent in 2020.

Volkswagen’s market share in 2017? Less than 2 percent. (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2017

2006 Toyota Camry XLE - Image: Toyota“This was the harshest move in consumer preference the industry has ever seen.”
– Bob Carter, Executive Vice President, Toyota North America

37 percent of the new vehicles sold in the United States in the first seven months of 2017 were passenger cars. That’s correct. 63 percent of the new vehicles now sold in America are pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and vans.

But how did we get to this 37-percent basement? When did we get here? How long did it take to get here? And is it really the basement? (Read More…)

By on July 18, 2017

2018 Hyundai Sonata - Image: HyundaiLaunched for the 2015 model year, the seventh Hyundai Sonata was not the avant-garde successor to the 2011-2014 Sonata for which many hoped. The new Sonata, while objectively better in virtually every way, was missing a key ingredient.

For 2018, Hyundai has thoroughly refreshed the seventh-generation Sonata, hoping that a far more aggressive front fascia will draw more eyes. Hyundai went much further than the superficial, however, by stiffening the Sonata’s structure, upgrading to an eight-speed automatic, and including more safety equipment as standard fit.

Yet while Toyota and Honda believe their new Camry and new Accord can ignite the midsize sedan segment in a bid to wage war against a crossover onslaught, Hyundai’s goals for the refreshed 2018 Sonata are far more modest. Much more modest. Más modesto. (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2017

2017 BMW X1 white off road - Image: BMWDepending where you live, it’s possible the shift away from luxury cars to luxury SUVs is dramatically more apparent than America’s nationwide figures suggest.

In 48 of 50 states, luxury utility vehicles outsell luxury cars. In seven states, premium brand utility vehicles form more than 65 percent of the premium market.

But according to Edmunds, the two states in which luxury cars still outperform luxury utility vehicles account for 31 percent of America’s luxury SUV market. (Read More…)

By on July 12, 2017

2018 Toyota Camry Georgetown Kentucky assembly line - Image: ToyotaAs Toyota watches its RAV4 quickly climb sales charts, the Japanese behemoth estimates it will sell fewer copies of its new-for-2018 eighth-generation Camry than it has in six years.

According to Reuters, Toyota is targeting 30,000 monthly Camry sales in the U.S. once the 2018 model fully takes over. That’s 360,000 Camry sales per year, well below the 412,000-unit average Toyota has managed over the last half-decade; 7-percent below last year’s output.

Toyota considers the thought of overall midsize sedan demise “inconceivable” but is by no means blind to the segment’s evolution. Recent deaths, such as the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Avenger, followed the disappearance of the Mitsubishi Galant, Suzuki Kizashi, and domestic nameplate removals, as well. Remember the Mercury Milan, Pontiac G6, and Saturn Aura?

But as the midsize segment struggles, Toyota looks down from its lofty perch and sees the odds increasingly turning in the Camry’s favor. “If other automakers left the sedan market to focus more on SUVs,” Camry chief engineer Masato Katsumata says, “that would be an opportunity to expand our market share of the segment.” (Read More…)

By on July 11, 2017

2017 Honda CR-V Touring – Image: Honda

What’s big these days? You know the answer. Avocados. Leasing. Saying “it me” on Twitter. But above all else, crossovers and SUVs.

Not only have utility vehicles become the driving force in the North American automotive marketplace, ownership of these versatile vehicles is apparently becoming harder and harder to quit. More than ever, owners of crossovers and SUVs find themselves bolting from their old utility vehicle into a brand new one.

As for sedan buyers, never has love drained so quickly from a relationship. (Read More…)

By on June 12, 2017

2016 Chevrolet Cruze Grille logo, Image: General Motors

General Motors has decided to further shrink its outgoing fleet of rental vehicles to prioritize its in-house vehicle lending service, Maven, and focus on getting newer cars to customers. That does mean building fewer vehicles overall, but GM shouldn’t care if it can keep raking in the profits — something rental fleets aren’t particularly good at in lower volumes, unless you’re the one charging a daily rate.

Alan Batey, president of GM’s North American operations, claims sales to rental fleets should drop by about 50,000 units this year and an undisclosed amount in 2018. It follows the company’s trend to scale back fleet sales in general. Big businesses accounted for 16.1 percent of its total U.S. sales in 2014, but that was reduced to 11.7 percent in 2016.  (Read More…)

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