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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Feb 28 2012, 8:25 AM

Although in recent times, there’s been much talk from automakers on delivering the vehicles that consumers want, at least when it comes to options, perhaps such statements should be taken with a pinch of salt.

If we take a look at current trends, it appears that many OE vehicle manufacturers are drastically reducing the number of options available, in an effort to simplify production as well as ordering processes for dealers.

For example, Volkswagen has reduced the number of options on the Passat from 148 to just 15, while over at General Motors, Buick division only offers 18 different combinations of different trim and model variations on the compact Verano sedan (shown above). Even Toyota, which has prided itself on listening to consumers and delivering vehicles based on their requirements is taking drastic steps – the Sienna minivan has seen order complexity reduced by a whopping 80 percent.

While some industry analysts believe this new emphasis on reduced ordering options actually results in potential buyers ending up with features they don’t want or need, automakers who’ve embraced the trend believe that besides a simplified ordering process, the result is a lower cost per vehicle, which can be passed on to buyers.

In fact, according to some, offering fewer options can also prove ultimately beneficial to consumers, who end up liking features they might not have previously considered. Kristen Andersson, a senior analyst for True  says, “it’s actually a relief. They are removing the work of trying to figure out what I want.”

However, despite this apparent trend, particularly as it relates to mainstream vehicle brands, there are some, notably more higher-end, luxury nameplates who are sticking to the idea of an a la carte menu when it comes to options. Porsche, for example, says that around 30 percent of buyers still custom order their cars. ”It’s expensive to do it the way we do  and  it slows down the assembly line,” says company spokesman Dave Engelman, though when you’re dealing with more discerning buyers it often pays to take such an approach, especially as it adds to the aura of exclusivity.

That said, some mainstream brands are also taking a multi-option approach when it comes to ordering new vehicles, Chrysler for example, lists no fewer than 100,000 different factory combinations for the new 2013 Dodge Dart, designed to broaden the vehicle’s appeal among a wider potential customer base. Will it work? Only time will tell, nevertheless it doesn’t hurt to give things a try.

[Source: Detroit Free Press]

 |  Mar 22 2011, 11:00 AM

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan has had a devastating effect on its people. Not only have many people lost their homes and loved ones, many companies are out of work as they struggle to get their businesses up and running.

Japan’s major car companies have also been badly hit due to this disaster. Toyota and Honda have still not started their operations, and will stay shut over the weekend, due to a shortage of parts coming from suppliers, which were situated in areas most badly hit by this recent disaster.

Other Japanese car firms have slowly started production, but mainly to finish the cars on the assembly line and make use of the parts that were already in their inventory. Nissan is hoping for a March 24 restart, which includes the Tochigi assembly plant that makes cars like the 370Z and the GT-R.

Mitsubishi has resumed production, but says it has parts to last them up to Wednesday, and will suspend production until the supplier issue is solved. Mazda, Suzuki and Subaru are in an identical situation.

Let’s all hope the nation of Japan and its people recover from this catastrophe and rebuild their homes and industry as soon as possible.

[Source: Automotive News]

 |  Aug 17 2010, 8:59 PM

They’ve been mandated in the U.S. since 2007, but now, thanks to a pending EU ruling, tire pressure monitoring systems are set to become mandated equipment on vehicles in Europe from November 2011. However, the announcement has resulted in a backlash, from auto manufacturers and also groups such as the AA (Automobile Association) who believe TPMS systems are unnecessarily costly and don’t really present a worthwhile solution. At present a number of vehicles on sale in Europe are available with TPMS systems, but so far, based on market research, there appears to be only small numbers of customers opting for them.

According to a spokesperson from Vauxhall, GM’s British arm, “we’ve only had a tiny uptake – people don’t attach a great deal of importance to this.” At Hyundai, similar sentiments were echoed. ”[TPMS] is a relatively costly thing and we have to pass that on to the consumer. There is a safety aspect and we appreciate that, but we don’t think it’s needed.” The AA’s Vanessa Guyll, declared that while TPMS sytems are “good in principle, they’re not a replacement for checking your tires – they don’t catch problems such as uneven wear and bulges.”

[Source: Auto Express]