AutoGuide News Blog
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.
Drivers in South Carolina are being treated to gas prices below $3 a gallon, something that might even creep into other parts of the country.
At one point, Japan was among the world’s leading auto markets but the country has yet to regain its stride after last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Japanese auto sales dropped to half the peak rate and a recovery has yet to take hold.
Global information company IHS Automotive conducted a study that shows sales in India will reach 4.88 million by 2016, taking the emerging nation ahead of Japan’s projected 4.51 million units in sales for that year. What’s more, IHS believes sales in Japan would taper off to 4.25 million by 2020.
At one point, Japan was ranked as one of the world’s top three largest regional markets, behind the United States and Europe. China has since rocketed past the rest of the world, claiming the global top ranking several years ago. Reports reveal that Chinese consumers have purchased 17.66 million vehicles for 2011. IHS predicts that China sales could even pass 30 million by the decade’s end.
The organization believes that India is positioned to be the next country to experience a big automotive boom, linking to a prediction that India’s population will sustain rapid growth in the coming decades.
That said, India’s economy is not as strong as China’s and it will also take a while for India to develop infrastructure that could handle a rapid spike in vehicles on the road. Some villages can only be reached by mules and donkeys and big cities suffer incredible traffic congestion due to the lack of major roadways.
Nonetheless, demand for automobiles in India is surging and may become the next focus market for global automakers.
[Source: Detroit Bureau]
Things have been changing for a few years already, and the future is not looking good for Canada. Thanks to their lower labor rates and production costs, more and more car companies are looking to move their operations down to Mexico.
Currently, Canada accounts for 16-percent of production for North America, but since 2008 Mexico, has accounted for 20-percent, and that number will likely grow.
If the trend continues, Canadians might lose their jobs well south of their border. However, not all is doom and gloom for our northern neighbors as vehicle production increased in 2011 by 2-percent to bring a total of 2.1-million units produced.
General Motors is supporting the Canadian economy by announcing that the new Cadillac XTS sedan will be built in Oshawa, Ontario (where vehicles like the Camaro are already built), and Toyota Motor Corporation has announced that it will invest C$545-million to upgrade Toyota production facilities in Ontario.
[Source: Automotive News]
Surprisingly, large segments of Americans are willing to buy Chinese made cars. Market research company GfK Automotive did its annual Barometer of Automotive Awareness and Imagery, and found that 38 percent of the respondents would consider buying a Chinese car. According to the study, “The openness to purchasing a Chinese and Indian vehicle is highest among Gen Y consumers, with 52 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from a Chinese automaker and 41 percent saying they are open to a vehicle from an Indian automaker.”
Don Deveaux, managing director of Gfk Automotive commented on the issue saying, “When a relatively unknown auto brand enters the market, potential buyers are going to have some initial skepticism without a frame of reference into the company’s history and differentiators from other brands. Quality and repair support are critical factors that potential buyers evaluate before purchasing a new vehicle, and without an established history in the United States, Chinese and Indian manufacturers need to overcome the lack of knowledge of their brands among potential new buyers.”
Currently Chinese automakers suffer from a poor image due to continued promises to offer models in America (which never seem to come to fruition), not to mention numerous poor marks in crash tests. Then again, who cares about safety when you can get a Bentley-styled SUV, like the Huatai B35 above.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Chevrolet has sold 2.35 million vehicles globally in the first six months of 2011, setting sales records in all the top five markets. The first six months of 2011 was the best half year performance in Chevrolet’s 100-year history. The American automaker sold 286,499 more vehicles in the first half of 2011 than the same time period of 2010, a 14-percent increase year over year.
The automaker set record first-half sales in several countries including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, China, Columbia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, South Africa and Turkey. Chevrolet’s growth has been credited to the new wave of models including the Cruze compact car, Spark mini car, Sonic small car, and Orlando MPV. The Chevy Malibu midsize car and the all-new Colorado compact pickup will soon join the previously mentioned vehicles when they go on sale later this year globally.
The damage caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami has affected manufacturing throughout Japan, however Nissan says that it anticipates being able to continue to gain market share from Honda and Toyota in North America.
Honda and Toyota stopped production entirely in the months following the earthquake and tsunami, however, Nissan was able to overcome parts shortages by shifting production to focus on those models it had enough parts to build. In June, Nissan sales were up 11 percent in the U.S, while Toyota and Honda were both down 21 percent. Furthermore, Nissan’s first-half momentum has seen sales increase 15 percent compared to Honda’s 2 percent gain and Toyota’s 4 percent loss so far in 2011. Nissan is also performing better than Ford which has seen sales rise 12 percent through the first six months of 2011. Nissan has accepted that it won’t pass Honda in North America this year, but this boost bridges the gap between the two longtime rivals.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
Nissan has launched a global proving test program for their compact electric commercial vehicle NV200.
The Japanese automaker began the test with Japan Post Service. The postal service will be provided with the NV200 to carry out postal collection for two months in Yokohama. The vehicle will be tested in real world conditions to help fine tune small aspects of the NV200. Testing will begin soon in Europe with the vehicle as well.
The testing on this vehicle is vital as it will serve as the next generation New York taxi. The vehicle has been present in Japan and European markets since 2009 and the van has won numerous awards.
“The role that can be played by zero emissions vehicles in promoting a balance between economic growth and environmental protection in the realm of logistics is large” said Nissan Corporate Vice President Hideto Murakami, who is responsible for the Global LCV Business Unit. “We will certainly reflect the customer feedback gained from these proving tests in our future product development, and I expect that our commercial electric vehicles based on the NV200 will contribute to our customers’ business and to the development of a sustainable society”.
Mercedes-Benz has officially released details regarding the new B-Class and the brands plans to release a dedicated ‘eco’ version as well as offer four-wheel drive and a range of alternatively powered models after the initial launch.
The vehicle has been lowered by 30mm to improve sportier handling and beneath the passenger cell, an ‘energy space’ has been engineered between the floor and the under-tray to store batteries, Compressed Natural Gas tanks and fuel cells in the planned electric, hydrogen and hybrid variants due out in 2013/13.
An entirely new gas and heavily revised diesel engine will be available as well. A gas powered direct injection 1.6-liter turbo engine will be available with either 123-hp or 154-hp with a larger turbo joining the range later next year.
The diesel engine will be a smaller lighter version of the 2.1-liter powerplant from the current C-Class range, displacing 1.8-liters and producing 108 or 134-hp. A “Sport” package will also be available offering a quicker steering rack, 20mm lower suspension and passive adjustable dampers. The B-Class will be unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show with sales beginning in Europe this fall and the UK receiving the car in the spring of 2012.
[Source: Auto Express]
Sales for the Fiat 500 are picking up after a slow start in the US market. The Mexican built US version was off to a slow start after only selling 3,141 units through the end of May, but the cute Italian car is gaining momentum. Chrysler has just 70 Fiat dealerships nationwide however there are plans to open another 60 by the end of the year, which should help move more units.
The original Fiat 500 was introduced in July 1957 and was then called the ”cinquecento”. Now in North America, Fiat is planning on launching a national marketing campaign for the new model on the Fourth of July, which will hopefully improve the the cars sales figures even more.
Three different trim levels are available including the Pop, Sport and Lounge models. The Pop base model retails for $15,500 which comes with power windows/ locks, power heated mirrors, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, cruise control and 7 airbags. The Sport model retails for $17,500 and comes with stiffer springs and shocks, 16-inch aluminium wheels, a more performance oriented exhaust, a Bose sounds system, leather wrapped steering wheel and hands free voice controls. The Lounge model retails for $19,500 and features a 6-speed automatic transmission and higher grade interior trim.
The 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine produces 100-hp and 98 lb-ft of torque. The 500 is rated at 30-mpg in the city and 38-mpg on the highway for a 33-mpg combined number.
[Source: USA Today]
Even with high gas prices, Americans are choosing fuel effiecient compacts with conventional gas engines over pricier gas-electric hybrids. Sales have steadily increased with the Hyundai Elantra, Ford Focus and Chevrolet Cruze while hybrids are showing little activity.
Hybrid sales in the U.S peaked in July,2009 peaking at 3.6% and last month sales were down to 1.6% however production cuts and the Japan disaster are playing a factor.
“Even with the fuel savings, it doesn’t make sense to buy a hybrid” for many buyers, says Power Senior Manager Mike Omotoso of J.D Power and Associates. “This year, we had $4 gas (in many cities) but we saw the introduction of compacts that get 40 mpg. All of these cars are considerably cheaper than hybrids.”
The nations best-selling hybrid is the Toyota Prius averaging 50 mpg, while the Ford Fusion hybrid averages 38.5 mpg. However, all Elantras and some Focus and Honda Civic models are rated at 40 mpg or more on the highway.
New conventionally powered cars use various strategies to increase gas mileage to compete at hybrid levels- without the batteries and electric motors that can increase the price of the car by $6,000, according to J.D Power and Associates.
[Source: USA Today]
The eagerly awaited Volkswagen GTI Edition 35 may not after all, be coming to North America. According to an insider at Volkswagen of America, the U.S division is not interested in the GTI Edition 35.
This special edition GTI will come with a sporty front end, wheels and interior, as well as an extra 25-hp making a total of 235-hp in the hatchback.
This VW was created to celebrate 35 years of the GTI, however the car has only been in the U.S for 30.
Volkswagen of America said they don’t feel the need for this version to boost sales. Furthermore, the dropped air dam is too low for American roads. Many enthusiasts can do without the bumper revision, however the extra horsepower is what will truly be missed by many in the U.S.
Stay tuned for more info!
[Source: Car and Driver]
Nissan has officially announced, that sales of the updated 2012 Leaf will start in the fall of 2012. The 2012 Leaf will include the addition of a standard heater, heated outside mirrors, heated steering wheel, heated front and rear seats and a rear HVAC duct. A quick charge port has also been added as standard equipment on Leaf SL models.
Two trim-levels are available including the SV and SL. The SL will feature a photo voltaic solar panel spoiler that supports charging of the 12-volt battery for car accessories, fog lights, auto headlights and cargo covers.
The Leaf will be powered by a 107-hp electric motor that is powered by lithium-ion cells. The Leaf is capable of driving a range of 100 miles with a top speed of 90 mph. Charging the car will take up to 8 hours on a standard 200V outlet. However, buyers can opt for the DC 50 kW quick charger, allowing up to 80 percent charge in under 30 minutes.
The Leaf will start at $32,780 however with a federal tax-credit, prices will come in as low as $25,280.
[Source: egm Car Tech]
Kia is planning to boost U.S production capacity by one fifth next year, because of high demand for new models. The Optima sedan is one of the Kia models meeting high demand, and the south Korean automaker is excited to take advantage of the world’s second-biggest auto market.
Kia stated today, it will invest $100 million to boost capacity. Kia’s Georgia plant will increase capacity from 300,000 to 360,000 vehicles starting in 2012. Prodiction of the 2012 Optima sedan will begin this September its Georgia plant, currently producing the Sorento SUV and the Hyundai Santa Fe SUV. 1,000 workers have been hired by Kia in anticipation for the additional production.
Sales jumped for the Korean automaker by 53.4 percent in May to hit an all-time high consecutively for three months caused by increased Optima sales.
Market shares topped 10 percent for both Kia an Hyundai together ranking fifth in global car sales. This has been attributed to slumping Japanese car sales caused by the March 11 earthquake.
“Kia is experiencing unprecedented growth in the U.S,” Ahn Byung-mo, group president and CEO of Kia Motors America, said.
With the recent earthquakes and tsunamis devestating Japan, automakers in the country are announcing a series of plant closures. Toyota, Mazda, Honda and Nissan have all announced plans to close various factories through the middle of March, although the plants could remain shuttered beyond that timeframe.
Toyota led the pack by announcing that their plants would close due to supply chain issues related to the disasters. Production of all Scion models will be halted, while the Toyota 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, Land Cruiser, Prius and Yaris will see production capacities affected. Similarly, the Lexus GS, LS, IS, GX and LX models will face some kind of production decrease. While many of the company’s most successful models are produced in North America, production at Toyota facilities in Texas, Kentucky and Canada would be hit as parts supplies from Japan may be compromised.
Mazda has also suspened production at two plants in Hiroshima and Hofu, which build their entire range of vehicles. Honda announced that their plants, which export the Civic Hybrid, Insight and versions of the Accord, would see a halt until March 20th, while Nissan announced a stop production order at Japanese plants until March 18th.
It would appear that Mazda, which relies almost entirely on exports, will be hardest hit by the disaster, and we can only hope that both Japan and its car industry recovers quickly from this horrific tragedy.
[Source: Left Lane News]
Toyota loss could be as much as $1.7 BILLION dollars
Toyota Motor Corp stock decline over the past 12 months. Source www.BigCharts.com
According to Bloomberg news, Toyota will soon announce a possible dividend cut or profit loss. Following the announcement by Toyota Motor Corp. President Katsuaki Watanabe, stocks dropped (just 0.2 percent) but still remained strong.
Bloomberg sources the Nikkei English News, which doesn’t give a source, but states that Toyota may actually post an operating loss of $1.7 Billion. It would be the first loss in the company’s 71 year history.
Toyota’s US sales fell 34 percent last month.
The news also brought about some market turbulence in German where both Daimler and BMW posted three percent losses for the day.
Meanwhile, Lamborghini has announced that even the ultra-rich are not free from the economic woes. While they do expect to post another record sales year, production will be slowed as the company will add an additional eight days to its Christmas brake.
Exotic car manufacturers, it should be noted, are in a unique position during such dire financial times as they rely on a pre-ordering process with lengthy wait times for customers. This means that sales of 2009 vehicles more accurately represent the 2007 marketplace as orders would have to have been placed much earlier. The advantage for companies like Lamborghini or Ferrari is that this system gives them a significant amount of time to react to an economic downturn.
Official Toyota Sales figures after the jump: