By on April 21, 2021

Vantas

The Vantas VX SUV will go on sale in the U.S. in late 2022. HAAH Automotive Holdings and Sicar announced yesterday that they will import Vantas and T-Go vehicles. This is a prelude to HAAH and Shanghai Sicar Automotive Technology manufacturing vehicles stateside. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed their U.S. manufacturing startup.

(Read More…)

By on November 25, 2020

2022 Honda Civic Sport. Image: HondaAs Toyota approached the launch of the all-new, 2018 Toyota Camry in mid-2017, the automaker telegraphed its intentions very plainly.

“I think you’re going to see the entire sedan market pick up,” then vice-president Jack Hollis said. “We want the new Camry to rehabilitate the segment,” Toyota’s Moritaka Yoshida said at the time.

Toyota wasn’t alone.

“I don’t expect to sell fewer Accords in 2018 with this great new product,” Honda’s sales vice-president, Ray Mikiciuk, said later on in 2017. Accord sales fell 10 percent in 2018 before sliding 8 percent in 2019.

One year later, Nissan’s Dennis Le Vot worked up to the launch of the 2019 Altima by suggesting that when it comes to passenger car market share: “We think 30 percent is the bottom.” Passenger car market share fell below 30 percent in 2019, the new Altima’s first full year.

Now we’re months away from the arrival of the 11th-generation Honda Civic. You know the drill: major automaker launches major car nameplate, major automaker suggests car market will stop the free-fall, major automaker hypes possibility of car market healing.

We’re skeptical.

(Read More…)

By on February 13, 2020

1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV in Denver junkyard, front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Nearly two years ago we asked whether the resurgent Lincoln brand should just give up on passenger cars in favor of an all-SUV lineup. Back then, things were heading in the wrong direction for the two remaining Lincoln cars, the Fusion-based MKZ and the equally Fusion-reliant Continental. Fast-forward a couple of calendars and the situation has almost reached its inevitable conclusion.

The MKZ will bow out before the end of the year, and 2021 spells the end for the Continental’s brief return to the full-size luxury car segment. In this regard Lincoln is acting like Buick, though GM’s semi-premium marque stands to reach car-free status first. Can you envision a time when Lincoln finds it worthwhile to introduce a new passenger car? (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2019

A flurry of new model additions benefitted many automakers with additional sales and greater revenue last month, and none more so than Fiat Chrysler, which saw its average U.S. transaction price rise 6.2 percent, year over year. Can you guess which segments pulled in the most extra money per vehicle? Bet you can.

At the other end of the yardstick, two foreign automakers basking in the glow of a very healthy sales month saw their average transaction prices fall. (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 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…)

By on October 10, 2018

2017 Elantra Eco

Once a bracket where most desirable vehicles lived, the sub-$20,000 price range is not the hot neighborhood it once was. The ever-upward creep of new vehicle MSRPs increasingly places most vehicles above that marker, and shifting consumer trends haven’t helped expand its ranks.

According to data from J.D. Power, 2018 has seen a rapid exodus from the cheap seats, with retail volume from the $20k-and-under crowd sinking 20 percent since the start of the year. Big spenders, on the other hand, are gobbling up $80,000-plus vehicles at a rapid clip. (Read More…)

By on August 11, 2018

2017 Honda Civic Si Sedan - Image: Honda

Ford’s already brought the axe down on all but one of its car models, and General Motors looks ready to do the same. Other automakers, however, know that ditching sedans would mean abandoning key groups of customers.

For Toyota and Honda, models like the Camry and Civic resonate far more among some demographics, and leaving that segment risks losing those buyers to other brands. Not everyone wants a crossover. Among Asians, Hispanics, and African-Americans, four Japanese nameplates keep popping up at the top of the most-bought list, but one domestic model poses a growing threat. (Read More…)

By on May 16, 2018

Image: GM

Given the automaker’s sales numbers, it’s not the wildest prediction. Investment bank Morgan Stanley sees General Motors’ American passenger car lineup — or most of it, anyway — disappearing in the near future.

The move would see GM adopt a similar product strategy as its Detroit Three rivals, with sedans relegated to overseas markets and focus placed firmly on the production of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. Barring $4 or $5 gasoline, domestic buying habits make this prediction seem inevitable — and there’s already rumblings of an impending cull in the automaker’s stable. (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2018

2018 Toyota Camry XSE white - Image: Toyota

While fewer competing models in a given segment stands to benefit any automaker left in that realm, Toyota isn’t sure just how loyal Ford car owners are to the Blue Oval brand.

Behind the scenes, there’s surely much licking of chops, but Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz wasn’t forthcoming with conquest predictions when he talked with Automotive News TV this week. One thing was clear, however. Toyota will remain a full-line brand for the foreseeable future, and the automaker stands to field a more car-heavy product mix for some time to come. And it’s just fine with that. (Read More…)

By on May 2, 2018

2017 Kia Cadenza - Image: Kia

April wasn’t a hot month for auto sales, what with two less selling days than the same period last year. Overall, the industry was down nearly 5 percent last month, with — in many cases — only the hottest-selling models, many of them recently revamped SUVs, posting a net gain.

April held some surprises, though, and one had to do with a pair of vehicles that should be on their way to the funeral home. That is, if all automakers acted on what they saw in the tea leaves. Certain automakers, Toyota and Kia among them, aren’t quite as eager to hop onto the all-crossovers-and-trucks bandwagon. Because of this, there’s still choice for someone looking for a large, front-wheel-drive sedan with plenty of content, but not luxury vehicle levels of it.

These people actually exist, albeit in ever smaller numbers. And these people apparently like what they see in two particular models. (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2018

Image: Lincoln Motor Company

Man, how about that upcoming Lincoln Aviator? Pretty sharp-looking SUV, ain’t it? And then there’s the new Navigator. Kinda big, though, but the 2019 Nautilus should be just the ticket for the front-drive midsizer crowd.

Oh, right — we were talking about sedans. Lincoln loves ’em, apparently, and it’s not having any of this Ford’s-killing-all-the-cars talk. (Read More…)

By on February 21, 2018

2019 Kia Forte Sedan

As market share swings rapidly towards SUVs and crossovers, automakers have had to sit down with their accountants and crystal ball to map out a product strategy for the future. The questions swirling in an executive’s mind are easy to imagine: Are cars worth it? Is it still useful having a minivan in the lineup? Does the future call for crossovers, not cars, in every size class?

Fiat Chrysler’s American divisions have already pulled out of the compact and midsize car market, and forget about the possibility of a subcompact. Minivans? Nah. Ford Motor Company’s non-truck lineup looks to be headed down a similar road. At Kia, however, there’s not one or two, but six passenger cars on offer, spanning the subcompact to full-size premium segments. Like minivans? They’ve got ’em, too.

Is this a smart strategy for a brand that saw its sales fall 8.9 percent in the U.S. last year? Sure, says Kia’s vice president of product planning — it means certain buyers aren’t being forgotten. Not everyone wants a crossover. One thing Kia won’t do, however, is follow its corporate sibling Hyundai down certain product paths. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2018

The Jaguar XJ, a slinky lineage of high-end saloons known for shuttling around British PMs, fictional heads of MI6, and The Equalizer, might not be around for much longer. At least not in the manner we’re used to seeing it.

British publication Autocar claims the automaker plans to spring a wholly new, “reinvented” flagship model on us before too long, and it won’t have an inline-six, V8, or V12 under the hood. It won’t use any gas at all. Nor will it remain a sedan.

Looking around at today’s vehicular landscape, it may be the only way to save the XJ. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2018

2017 Ford Fusion Sport front, Image: © 2017 Steph Willems/The Truth About Cars

There’s a bell tolling for probably more than one Ford passenger car model, though we don’t know which ones just yet. Or do we?

As part of its updated operational strategy, detailed at the Deutsche Bank Global Auto Industry Conference in Detroit Tuesday, Ford Motor Company plans to sink $11 billion into electrification by 2022, release 16 fully electric models on a global scale, and field SUVs in every possible segment and sub-segment. Exhibit A: the subcompact EcoSport and brawn-ified Edge ST.

The company’s goal is greater profits and a healthier return for shareholders, not to mention a hoped-for lift in share value. Certainly, Ford’s declining stock did former CEO Mark Fields no favors.

Unfortunately, in order for Ford’s fortunes to soar, certain models will have to die. The company says it “will shift toward a lower volume passenger car lineup in North America and Europe.” (Read More…)

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