By on June 1, 2017

2017 Ram 1500 Rebel Blue Streak, Image: FCAU.S. auto sales were essentially flat in the fifth month of 2017 as May new vehicle volume was let down by significant passenger car declines but bolstered by significant pickup truck volume.

Despite a drop in incentives, U.S. sales of full-size pickups jumped 10 percent in May 2017. General Motors’ pickup sales continued to decline, but big gains at Ford, Ram, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda masked losses across much of the industry.  (Read More…)

By on June 28, 2016

Golf Alltrack Subaru Outback combo

We don’t yet know the exact price of Volkswagen USA’s 2017 Golf Alltrack.

We are certain, however, that Volkswagen, a company with a brand image severely tarnished in the United States, will be able to do no better than slightly undercut the basic price of the Subaru Outback.

And that might be a problem. (Read More…)

By on June 27, 2016

Compass Patriot Replacement Poster, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ fourth-quarter reveal of Jeep’s replacement for the Compass and Patriot comes after mountains of late-in-life success for the small SUV duo.

In Jeep’s U.S. home market, sales of the Compass — known as one of The Worst Cars Today since way back in 2006 — soared to an all-time record high of 66,698 units in calendar year 2015. Through the first five months of 2016, Compass sales are up 72 percent, a gain of 16,411 sales for Jeep’s lowest-volume model.

The Patriot, meanwhile, topped the list of TTAC’s The Worst Cars Today in 2016, sales of the Patriot also having shot up to record levels of 118,464 units in 2015. Year-over-year, U.S. Patriot sales through the first five months of 2016 grew 4 percent to 52,067 units. Combined, the Dodge Caliber-based tandem essentially produce one-quarter of Jeep’s sales in the brand’s home market, outselling every other individual Jeep nameplate.

Against this backdrop of outrageous success for two critically panned trucklets with seven-slot grilles, a single Jeep candidate will step in to fill their shoes at a Brazilian debut later this year. Jeep already has a subcompact SUV: the Renegade. Jeep already has a small and affordable off-roader: the non-Unlimited Wrangler. Jeep already has an entry to challenge America’s leading crossovers: the Cherokee.

Can Jeep find space in tight quarters for yet another small SUV? If not, we’re about to see the first Jeep flop since the Commander arrived in 2005. (Read More…)

By on June 23, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Camaro

On the Muscle Car Calendar, 2016 was supposed to be the Year of Camaro.

After outselling the Ford Mustang in the United States in five consecutive years between 2010 and 2014, it wasn’t surprising to see the Chevrolet Camaro fade into a distant second place in calendar year 2015. The Mustang was all-new in sixth-generation form for model year 2015; the Camaro was in its seventh and last year of its fifth iteration. The refreshed Dodge Challenger’s success may have played a role in the Camaro’s sharp decline, too, as 2015 was the seventh consecutive year of U.S. Challenger sales growth.

2016, with the reborn Camaro freshly reengineered and the Mustang no longer the freshest American muscle, is not turning out to be the Camaro’s time to shine.

Through the first five months of 2016, the Ford Mustang has outsold the Chevrolet Camaro by 21,324 units in the United States, a margin that may be impossible for the Camaro to overcome by year’s end. (Read More…)

By on June 20, 2016

2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus

Nearly one-third of the workforce at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ plant in Kragujevac, Serbia, was laid off last week because of poor Fiat 500L demand.

In the United States, the 500L is by no means the only Fiat that isn’t selling.

Besides the 500L’s sharp U.S. sales decline — year-over-year volume has tumbled each month in the last nine months — the core 500 model which brought Fiat back to life in the U.S. has lost nearly half its volume this year, a 6,288-unit loss through only five months.

Meanwhile, the expectation that a crossover could make up for the poorly received 500L and rapidly aging 500 turned out to be false. A crossover, yes, that will be the ticket. Surely a crossover could work wonders. A relative of the Jeep Renegade, only prettier, could definitely restore Fiat to the peak glory days of 2014.

Glory days, when with two models in its lineup, Fiat USA failed to match its stated goal of 50,000 annual sales for the 500 alone? Of course, that Sergio Marchionne sales forecast was way off target.

Just as the 500L and 500X have missed the mark, as well. (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2016

2014 Toyota Tundra 1794 CrewMax

Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Dan Neil fairly torched the 2016 Toyota Tundra CrewMax in a recent review for The Wall Street Journal’s Rumble Seat.

“It is not the strongest, the swiftest and definitely not the most fuel efficient,” Neil wrote in a particularly stinging paragraph which began by Neil calling the Tundra, “not the most technically advanced truck on the market.”

The Tundra faithful, not particularly numerous at the best of times relative to rival Detroit nameplates, is an ever more compact group of individuals. With each passing month, America’s truck buyers make increasingly clear that they heartily agree with Dan Neil. (Read More…)

By on June 10, 2016

2017 Acura ILX blue

There is a new Honda Civic on a new platform with a very well-equipped Touring trim available. The tenth-generation is a hot seller and it claimed top sales honours among passenger cars in April.

Yet sales of another car, based on the old Honda Civic’s platform, are on the rise. Indeed, sales of the Acura ILX, admittedly updated for 2016 but very much a close relative of the ninth-generation Civic, have risen nine percent in a car market which tumbled eight percent through the first five months of 2016.

Why? (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2016

2016 BMW 340i

Discouraging results at BMW USA persisted in May 2016 as the brand continues to suffer from the successful, and somewhat artificially successful, end to 2015. May sales at the BMW Group tumbled nine percent, with blame largely falling on the shoulders of BMW’s most popular cars and the Mini brand.

BMW’s urge to generate record U.S. sales in 2015 ended with a 2,935-unit margin of victory over Mercedes-Benz, BMW’s chief global rival, and a 1,422-unit margin over Toyota’s Lexus brand.

News of the alleged victory, however, was followed by controversy, as it became increasingly clear that a chunk of BMW’s sales at the end of the year were spurious. “BMW paid its dealers as much as $1,750 a vehicle in December to put new models in their service fleets,” Automotive News reported in February. And without those sales, BMW was not likely the top-selling premium brand in America in 2015 – Lexus was.  (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2016

2016 Audi Q3, Image: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars

TTAC is the American car buyer’s influencer of choice. We render verdicts, and the masses abide by our verdicts. Why do Americans buy more than 400,000 Toyota Camrys per year? Because TTAC’s Jack Baruth track-tested a Camry and was more than a little complimentary. That’s why.

Want more evidence of TTAC’s overwhelming authority? On April 11, this article on the subject of the Audi Q3 written by yours truly accused the Q3’s ride comfort of being nonexistent. I said the Q3 is the Audi that makes sure, against all reason, that I possess no pro-Audi bias.

You already know the results of such an article. In response to the critique, Americans would quickly turn away from the Q3, and inventory at Audi dealers would surely build up as customers cancelled their orders.

Or, the Audi Q3 would break its own U.S. sales record in April and then break that record again in May. (Read More…)

By on June 7, 2016

2017 Jaguar F-Pace

After breaking its one-year-old sales record with a sharp increase to more than 61,000 sales in 2002, Jaguar’s U.S. sales decline began with a vengeance. Jaguar USA volume plunged 80 percent between 2002 and 2009 and has not since recovered. Under Ford Motor Company’s tutelage, Jaguar sold more cars in the United States in 2002 than in the last four years combined.

Yet seemingly overnight, May 2016 played host to a completely revolutionized Jaguar lineup. Year-over-year, U.S. sales at the Jaguar brand shot up 80 percent in May 2016. Thanks to two new products which instantly became Jaguar’s two best-selling models and generated more than half of all Jaguar sales, the Indian-owned British carmaker once again appears poised to approach the borders of America’s premium mainstream. (Read More…)

By on June 3, 2016

Chrysler 200 Limited grey

The 200 is certainly approaching death’s door more rapidly than first anticipated.

First, there was a temporary plant shutdown as a reaction to an inventory glut. Then, in response to the market’s clarification that, yes, the 200 has truly fallen out of favour, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles instituted layoffs at the Sterling Heights factory where the 200 is built. News that the current Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart would not be followed up by FCA-developed successors was made all the more real when FCA boss Sergio Marchionne said 200 production may be suspended by the end of this year.

From a corporate standpoint, there’s no doubt that FCA’s compact and midsize U.S. market passenger cars are not long for this world. Marchionne even kicked the 200 while it was down by publicly declaring its faults, design errors which play a part in Consumer Reports’ anti-recommendation.

But dealers still have tens of thousands of Chrysler 200s to sell. (Read More…)

By on June 2, 2016

2016 Jeep Renegade

More than 90,000 Jeeps were sold in the United States in May 2016, a record for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ best-selling auto brand during an abbreviated sales month in which industry-wide sales fell 6 percent.

There were only 24 selling days on the auto sales calendar in May, a “month” which didn’t officially begin until May 3. Compared with May 2015, when there were 26 selling days, real Jeep volume jumped 14 percent, the greatest year-over-year increase of any volume auto brand, accounting for nearly 11,000 additional sales.

Rapidly rising Jeep Renegade sales are partly to thank. Yet even with the Renegade excluded, sales of Jeep’s five more established models rose 6 percent, or 15 percent on a daily selling rate basis. Five Jeeps ranked among America’s 20 best-selling SUVs and crossovers in May 2016. As for the Compass? It ranked 21st.  (Read More…)

By on June 1, 2016

2017 Kia Sportage

The U.S. auto industry’s May 2016 sales performance was much better than the numbers suggest, but there were disappointing results in some quarters.

Due to a quirk in the auto sales calendar – May 2016 had two fewer selling days than May 2015 – the period in which sales were generated for the “May” period was simply too brief for May 2016 to measure up to May 2015. This is more easily seen with a look at the daily selling rate picture, where industry-wide results were up two percent, a far less daunting figure than the six percent decline in real volume reported by the industry overall. (Read More…)

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