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.
The Hyundai Sonata has officially bumped off the Nissan Altima to take 3rd place in the mid-size sedan sales race. The Sonata sold 21,399 units in August, closing in on the Honda Accord, which sold 22,506 units. The Toyota Camry enjoys a comfortable lead, selling just over 30,000 units in August. The figures exclude fleet and rental sales.
The Sonata has bested tough rivals like the Ford Fusion and Chevrolet Malibu. Buyers are apparently enticed by a strong warranty, low MSRP and generous equipment levels. About 75% of Sonata customers are “conquest buyers” who have traded in other brands for a Hyundai.
[Source: Detroit News]
Mazda‘s excellent sedan, the Mazda6, is not really on the radar of most North American consumers, even though it’s a worthy competitor in the segment. That’s not to say that the car is a flop, but it’s not as strong a seller as, say the Hyundai Sonata or Ford Fusion, let alone the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord.
Evidently, the car is popular in the rest of the world. Mazda has just celebrated building 2,000,000 Mazda6 sedans at its plant in Hofu, Japan. The milestone took roughly8 years to achieve, not a bad timeframe for a car from a smaller manufacturer like Mazda.
“I was the first generation model’s development program manager, and I still have a special fondness for this terrific car,” said Seita Kanai, head of R&D and Program Management for Mazda. ”I’m grateful to the two million-plus customers around the world who have purchased a Mazda6. I would like to say thank you to each and every customer.”
Kudos to Mazda on building a boat load of fine cars that the common person can buy. We’re anxiously waiting for the upcoming diesel version due in 2012.
It’s always painful to drag out the tired “fat Americans” canard that so many smug Europeans like to bust out everytime your criticize their 35 hour workweek, but the truth is, many Americans are on the larger side.
Consumers Reports makes an excellent point; larger people often buy larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs, which has an impact on fuel economy. Not only do larger vehicles consume more fuel, but the added mass of their obese human cargo adds to the overall burden that the vehicle must deal with.
Recognizing this phenomenon, Consumers Reports decided to round up the best vehicles for portly men and women that were also efficient and affordable. Among the criteria for the vehicles were “easy access, a roomy driving position, decent visibility, and comfortable seats plus, a tilt-and-telescope steering wheel for extra room.” The top 5 vehicles were the Honda Accord, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Azera, Kia Rondo and Subaru Forester XT Limited, not the most exciting choices but all decent vehicles in their own right.
[Source: Consumers Reports]
The first American built Honda car rolled of the line in 1982, and 28 years later, Honda has finally reached a significant milestone in North America, building more cars in the United States than in Japan.
From April to June of 2010, Honda built 236,819 vehicles in America while producing 236, 559 in Japan. American Honda started with one Ohio plant in 1979, that built Accord sedans, but now includes 8 auto plants across the United States as well as one in Canada. In addition to the Accord, cars like the Civic, Odyssey, Ridgeline, CR-V, Acura TL, Acura MDX and Acura RDX are now built in North America. Not bad for one of the smaller Japanese auto makers.
Honda‘s Marysville, Ohio manufacturing plant started in a revolution in 1982 when it became the first Japanese auto plant on American soil. The Honda Accords that rolled off the line started an automotive revolution, and the company hasn’t looked back since.
After nearly three decades, Marysville has reached a major milestone after building car # 10,000,000. While the Acura RDX and TL are also built at Marysville, Accords have accounted for 85% of the production over the years. Here’s to another 1o million!
Hit the jump to see the official press release
The biggest changes are fuel economy related, with four-cylinder automatic transmission models now returning 23 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, bumps of 2 and 3 mpg respectively. V6 coupes with the automatic transmission get paddle shifters, and EX models get USB audio inputs and backup cameras on models equipped with navigation.
While recent Honda products have come under fire for having “lost their way”, the Accord has managed to weather the storm and deliver a quality product. However the Sonata threatens to unseat it by delivering an equally good package at a much lower price. The new upgrades should help the Accord withstand the product onslaught from the Koreans and Americans as well.
Gallery: 2011 Honda Accord
Hit the jump to see the official press release
Honda was forced to shut down all four of its Chinese car plants, after 1,850 workers at an auto parts plant went on strike over wages. The strike is reported to have crippled Honda’s production capability in what is now the world’s largest car market.
The lack of parts means that Honda is unable to assemble cars at any of its four Chinese plants. The employees at the parts plant want their wages increased to between 2,000 yuan ($293) and 2,500 yuan per month, from 1,500 yuan ($220). Workers at Honda’s car plants make a similar wage.
“China is experiencing a labor shortage that’s shifting the natural bargaining power to workers,” Chang-Hee Lee, a Beijing-based industrial relations specialist at the International Labor Organization told Bloomberg News. While much of China’s economy is owned by the state (and Honda’s own operations are jointly owned with the Chinese government), governmental authorities claim that Honda has done nothing wrong in the labor dispute. China account for about 17 percent of Honda’s global sales, making it a crucial market for its operations.
There’s not a single member of the Autoguide staff who does not admire the Honda’s of the company’s “Golden Age”. Spanning the period from 1983, when the CRX was released, to 2001, when the last Integra Type-R rolled off the line, subsequent Honda’s have been excellent cars, but have never quite lived up to the magic that their predecessors were able to wield over us.
Right around the turn of the last decade, Honda’s dominance in the import tuner market looked set to end as drifting, the new motorsports craze, seemed destined to take over. With their front-drive layout, the big H couldn’t compete in the rear-wheel-driven motorsport. But as drifting’s popularity grew, the popularity of Honda cars experienced a parallel renaissance that continues to this day.
Eibach Springs holds an annual Honda meet for afficionados of the brand, described as the “Concours D’Elegance” for Honda cars. While some scoff at the notion that Japanese cars will ever be historically important, there are now multiple generations that grew up with cars from the Land of the Rising Sun, living out their teenage and young adult years behind the wheel of Datsuns, rear-drive Toyotas and Civic hatchbacks. As the crowd gets older, the 1970′s machinery is becoming increasingly collectible and the fan base is becoming more affluent. The Eibach show is a great way for those with high dollar Hondas to show off their babies to others admirers of the brand.
Parents magazine has made the list (and assumedly checked it twice) to bring you their top 15 picks of family-friendly vehicles for 2010. Teaming up with Edmunds.com, Parents has only included models that come equipped with antilock brakes and front, side, and side-curtain air bags. These vehicles also come with family necessities such as sliding rear seats, smart storage for toys, and other amenities that make the drive that much smoother. You may be surprised to learn that not many minivans or SUVs made the list. The picks aren’t in any particular order and are broken down into categories such as sedans, hybrids and large vehicles.
They are listed after the jump, along with a few of their top selling points:
Amanda Pogany’s 1996 Honda Accord was stolen from outside her Brooklyn apartment three years ago. When she called the police for help, they did little more than laugh. After all, the Accord is one of the top selling cars in America, and one of the most stolen to boot.
But Pogany’s car did turn up, three years after it first went missing. And while most theft recovery cars are missing some important bits, like seats, a drivetrain and wheels, Pogany’s Accord came back in better condition than original.
Gone was the anemic single-cam 2.3L F-Series four cylinder and automatic transmission. In its place was an H22 VTEC engine from a Prelude, along with a cold-air intake, a header, alloy wheels, tinted windows and a 5-speed manual gearbox. Pogany can’t even drive a manual transmission car, but claims her husband is “very excited” about the family vehicle’s new modifications. The AutoGuide staff are all fans of hopped-up Hondas, and we found ourselves chuckling at the fact that we slaved away at minimum wage jobs to afford these sorts of parts, while a mother who is definitely not a car person just happened to have a very potent Honda fall into her lap.
[Source: Huffington Post]
Honda used the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) Show to announce the introduction of a new line of Mugen Accessories for the 2010 Accord. Mugen has long been known as a performance parts company, building special edition cars for Honda as well as assisting in the company’s motorsports programs.
The list of Mugen parts for the Accord include: 18-inch wheels, a new front grille and front lip spoiler, side skirts, a rear bumper valance, as well as floor mats, a machined aluminum oil ca and a special front emblem. The parts will be available through authorized Honda dealers and all body panels will come pre-painted in one of five Accord factor colors: Polished Metal Metallic, Crystal Black Pearl, Alabaster Silver Metallic, White Diamond Pearl and Taffeta White.
“With a growing accessory lineup, now including Mugen kits for the Accord sedan and Fit, Honda is committed to supporting personalization of our vehicles into the future,” said Bruce Smith, VP of Parts Operations for American Honda Motor Co.
The complete lineup of Mugen Accessories for the 2010 Accord will be available starting November 11th.
GALLERY: 2010 Honda Accord with Mugen Accessories
With the Cash-for-Clunkers program officially ending last night, the U.S. Department of Transportation has now released its top 10 list of the most purchased vehicles under the program, with the most popular car purchased being the Toyota Corolla.
Toyotas actually took three of the top 10 spots, with the Camry placing third and the new Prius ranking seventh. Honda did equally well, taking three of the top 10 spots, with the Civic coming in second, the Accord 8th and the Fit 9th.
Nissan and Hyundai each had one spot on the list with the Versa in 6th and the Elantra in 5th. Ford was the only U.S. automaker to break into the top 10, with the front-wheel drive Focus in 4th and the FWD Escape in 10th.
The “Top 10″ list doesn’t tell the whole story, however. While no General Motors products are listed in the top 10, collectively, GM products accounted for 17.6% of the total of new cars purchased under the program, second only to Toyota with 19.4%.
In total, the Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS) generated 690,114 transactions worth a total of $2.8 billion.
“American consumers and workers were the clear winners thanks to the cash for clunkers program,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Manufacturing plants have added shifts and recalled workers. Moribund showrooms were brought back to life and consumers bought fuel efficient cars that will save them money and improve the environment. This is one of the best economic news stories we’ve seen and I’m proud we were able to give consumers a helping hand.”
In total, 84 percent of consumers traded in trucks, while 59 percent purchased cars. The average fuel economy of a car traded in was 15.8 mpg, whereas the average fuel economy of a car purchased was 24.9 mpg – an improvement of 9.2 mpg or 58 percent.
Want to know where a car is made? Look at the VIN.
The All-American Impala: Made in Canada
During President Obama’s press conference last week when he announced that Chrylser would file for Chapter 11, he asked Americans that if they were looking to buy a car, to look at American cars. The “buy American” philosophy drew harsh criticism from the American International Automobile Dealers Association (AIADA), which pointed out that buying American doesn’t necessarily mean buying a car from an American brand.
“AIADA objects to President Obama’s ‘buy American’ solution for the auto sector,” AIADA President Cody Lusk said in a statement. “In today’s globalized economy ‘buying American’ can mean anything from buying a Chevy Avalanche built by Mexican workers in Silao, Mexico to buying a Toyota Camry built by Americans in Georgetown, Kentucky.”
On that note, there is one way to tell exactly which country a car is manufactured in – the VIN number. That’s right, that odd 17-digit sequence of numbers and letters found on the dash under the windshield (and in numerous other places on a vehicle) holds the key to a vehicle’s country of origin.
Many VIN numbers, actually start with a letter. Those that start with a “J” are built in Japan and those with a “K” are from Korea. Most of the rest, however, aren’t so intuitive. VINs that start with a “W” are from Germany, while an “S” signifies England. Swedish cars get a “Y.”
The United States, Canada and Mexico all use a number system, with American-made cars using a VIN that starts with the number 1, while Canadian-made cars use a 2 and Mexican made cars use a 3.
The number of American vehicles made outside the U.S. is actually quite significant, while many “foreign” cars are built in American. In fact, one of America’s best-selling vehicles (and one that is also typically American) is actually built in Canada – the Chevy Impala.
Other made-in-Canada cars include the Buick Lacrosse, Chrysler 300, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX, Lincoln Town Car, Mercury Grand Marquis and the new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro.
Made-in Mexico cars include the Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan and Chevrolet HHR. And as for the the Chevy Aveo sub-compact, it comes from Korea.
On the flip-side, there are plenty of Japanese (and even some German) vehicles built in the U.S. of A. Some of the most significant include the high volume Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, while the Honda Element and Toyota Avalon are also U.S. products. Nissan builds several models in the United States while BMW manufactures the Z4 as well as the X5 and X6 in South Carolina.
… The more you know…
[Source: La Times]
Japanese Automakers Dominate
The Lexus LS460, Rated the Best Overall Car by Consumer Reports for 2008
Consumer Reports has just released its list of the best cars in each class and the Japanese are dominating with 8 vehicles (out of 10) in the top spots. CR says it bases its results on three variables: Road Tests, Reliability and Safety.
For a car to be a top pick it must have ranked at the top of its class in an overall test score, which includes 50 individual tests. A Car must also have an average of better predicted reliability rating and must perform “adequately” in safety tests by the NHTSA or IIHS. Consumer Reports also stipulates that for any car to be a top pick it must have stability control (ESC).
And The Winners are:
Best Overall: Lexus LS460
-powerful, good fuel-economy,uncompromising luxury
Best Family Sedan: Honda Accord
-Roomy, well-rounded and fun to drive, plus ESC (Altima bested Accord in most tests but not all Altimas come with ESC)
Best Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Avalanche
-functional and comfortable
Best Small SUV: Toyota Rav4
-roomy and quiet, good on gas with 4 or 6-cyl, third row seat available
Best Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander
-quiet, three rows of seats, decent fuel economy, versatile, AWD optional, Hybrid available
Best Minivan: Toyota Sienna
-versatile, seating for 8, rivals luxury cars for interior, AWD optional
Best Small Car: Hyundai Elantra
-comfortable and roomy wih good fuel economy, ESC on SE model
Best Green Car: Toyota Prius
-Prius wins six years running
Best UpScale Sedan: Infiniti G37
-Agile, great interior, AWD optional, luxury and sport all in one.
Best Fun to Drive Car: Mazda MX-5 Miata
-Tied Boxster in testing but costs half as much
[Source: Consumer Reports]