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.
There’s been quite a lot of talk over the last few years concerning the replacement for Nissan‘s venerable Titan full-size pickup.
After the plan to offer a Ram based vehicle went away, following Chrysler’s bankruptcy and subsequent restructuring, Nissan chose to go it alone when it came to a next generation big pickup, bringing the entire development and engineering process in-house.
However, those plans, which reportedly would have seen a revamped Titan rolled out in 2013, have now been pushed back at least a year, largely as a result of supplier fallout from Japan’s natural disaster back in March. This has left the automaker scrambling to get production back on track as a top priority, diverting resources away from some upcoming vehicle programs.
As a result, during a Q&A session with Automotive News at the LA Auto Show last month, Andy Palmer, Nissan’s vice president for vehicle planning and program management, stated that, regarding a new Titan, “we will come out a little later now. I have made the decision.”
As to what form the new Titan will take, or which powertrains it will offer, little is known at this time, though expect V6 and possibly V8 engines as well as extended and crew cab models. It’ll be also interesting to see if Nissan will attempt to target heavier-duty customers with this one (it’s Titan based NV van currently comes in 1/2 ton, 3/4 ton and 1-ton configurations).
Perhaps the most exciting addition to the new Titan, however, will be the addition of a Cummin’s sourced diesel engine.
This year has been a tough one for Toyota thanks to Mother Nature and her natural disasters. As if the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan wasn’t bad enough, Thailand experienced its worst floods in almost 70 years, disrupting Toyota’s production of their popular Camry and Prius models.
As a result, Toyota has had to cut its full-year profit forecast by 54-percent, dropping their net income 56-percent to $2.3 billion in the 12 months ending on March 31st, 2012. That’s less than half the profit that was originally projected by analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Combine the disasters with the yen’s surge and it’s no surprise that Toyota’s recovery is going to be tough and may take longer than one would expect for the popular Japanese auto manufacturer. It is likely that Toyota will be giving up its three-year crown of world’s largest carmaker to GM for 2011.
Due to the flood, Toyota and Honda both delayed their new projections, while Nissan on the other hand raised its profit forecast thanks to a rise in vehicle sales in China. It’s widely believed that Toyota lost more output than any other automotive manufacturer from Thailand’s record floods, possibly causing 260,000 vehicles to have been lost in production.
Toyota is also in a balancing act with the pricing on their vehicles due to the rising yen. They have even admitted that they have had to raise the prices on some of their vehicles and anticipate a drop in sales as a result.
[Source: Automotive News]
As Typhoon Roke made landfall on the Pacific Coast of Honshu, Japan’s largest island on September 22, automakers in the country, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan had shuttered plants and other facilities in anticipation of potential damage.
According to Environmental News Service, the Typhoon brought with it heavy rain and driving winds as it headed Northwest across Hammatsu City in Shizuoka Prefecture. At the time of posting this blog, there had been reports of some 1,000 homes in 30 different Prefectures flooded by rain, while some 90,000 dwellings had lost power. In addition some 367 people had reportedly been injured as a result of the Typhoon, while four were declared missing.
As Japan is now in the midst of Typhoon season, there will likely be others making landfall shortly, with the potential to wreak further havoc on the country’s citizens and infrastructure, making local automakers nervous. Given the fallout from March’s earthquake and Tsunami, Japanese manufacturers will likely be glad to see the back of 2011, though contingency plans put in place should ensure that production and supply chains won’t be disrupted in the same fashion as they were earlier this year.
[Source: Environmental News Service]
It’s only been a mere six months since Japan was devastated by earthquake and tsunami, but on September 13, 2011, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing Executive Vice President Steve St. Angelo proudly announced that all Toyota models in the North American line-up have finally returned to 100 percent production.
Just weeks after the quake hit on March 11, Toyota tentatively forecasted the recovery to take as long as November to complete. St. Angelo remarked, “The recovery is a testament to the dedication and commitment of our North American team members, suppliers and business partners… I have no doubt that our team continues to be focused on building high quality vehicles for our customers.”
Thanks to the quicker than expected recovery, Toyota’s main priority now is to start replenishing dealer inventories by running overtime and weekend shifts for particular plants. Production for the fourth quarter is now estimated at 15% higher than the initial forecast.
It sounds like the plot to a bad science fiction movie. ASIMO, Honda‘s humanoid robot, is sent into the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plan in Japan to help out where human’s can’t, only to be transformed by Plutonium into a killing machine.
But don’t worry says Honda, it’s not going to happen. Despite a story by Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun indicating as much (minus our editorialized outcome), Honda has officially commented that any such plans are merely, “speculation.”
The piece in the Asahi paper went into detail, indicating that the 4-foot, 3-inch robot’s upper body would be upgraded to handle the task, while it’s feet could be replaced with wheels or caterpillar tracks, to better move about in the debris strewn
nuclear plant, which continues to leak radiation.
“Although Honda hopes that ASIMO will someday be a helper to people, at this point the robot is solely a research and design project,” said US Honda spokeswoman Lauren Ebner.
This year hasn’t been the kindest to Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota. The devastation wrought by March’s earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, resulted in severe disruptions to their supply chains, causing dealer inventories to run low and other automakers to gain ground in sales.
However, after a dismal July, there are signs that both Honda and Toyota are gaining momentum; supply from Japan has improved, while factories in North America are running in overdrive in an effort to boost vehicle inventory to more ‘normal’ levels.
Even though rivals, including Detroit’s big three, have gained ground this year as a result of problems facing the Japanese duo, most seem to view Honda and Toyota’s improving fortunes quite favorably.
Don Johnson, General Motors’ US sales head, believes that more Hondas and Toyotas on dealer lots will help stimulate overall growth in new car sales, bringing back buyers who’ve been sitting on the fence. ”A lot of brand-loyal customers have chosen to sit on the sidelines until selection and price improve,” he says. “They will be coming back into the market.”
That said, it is likely to be some time before inventory levels reach pre-March totals. Randy Pflughaupt, group vice president of sales administration for Toyota, believes it will be 2012 before the automaker achieves year-over-year sales increases; Honda meanwhile, is currently running at around 95 percent of normal production in Japan, with full inventory achieved on all US product lines bar the Civic which traditionally is one of it’s most popular models.
According to a number industry analysts, it’s inventory that defines the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ in the marketplace and right now, as it stands, Domestic brands are leading the way, Chrysler boasting a 72 day supply on its vehicles, allowing it to post a 20 percent gain in sales during July, as Honda and Toyota combined, slipped 6.9 percent. Ford, with a 54 day supply has seen sales jump by 13 percent for the bread and butter brand and 40 percent for Lincoln in the same period. GM, with a 73 day supply has reported gains of some 8 percent.
“Whoever has the cars, outsells everybody,” declared Ralph Martinez, a Chrysler dealer principal from Wilsonville, Oregon. “People are out there buying,” he said, but “they’re going to places that have a good selection.”
[Source: Automotive News]
Still plagued by the effects of the March 11th earthquake, Toyota won’t be able to turn a profit Stateside until September.
Sales of Toyotas have been plummeting since May: 33% then and 21% in June, and a projected 21-33% for the month of July. This comes on a total 4% slide from the first quarter, even though the rest of the industry saw an increase of 13%. Not good. And to make Toyota’s matters even worse, there’s still a shortage of cars and light trucks for dealer lots—one that won’t be fulfilled for weeks.
“Our market share will begin recovering this month, but it will be September or maybe October before we’re really growing again,” said Bob Carter, Toyota’s vice president for US sales. “We were in too deep a hole, and we’re still digging out.”
Weak consumer confidence is also not helping matters, even though Toyota is launching a boost in incentives to attract consumers. By September, however, Toyota should be back to regular production in both Japan and North America, especially with the new, perennially-popular Camry dropping this fall.
If you live in America, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to still favor Yahoo over Google. Over the recent years, Google has evolved from a search engine service to providing free email, navigation, maps, operating systems, image hosting, social networks…you get the picture. The technology that Google has created is, for the most part, beneficial to human kind, though some question the comapny’s practices of privacy and security.
Case in point, the residents of Japan weren’t very fond of Google’s Street View vehicles prowling their streets, snapping up photos and peeking into their homes. But now Google has found a more beneficial way of utilizing their Street View vehicles, aiding in Japan’s recovery efforts after their disastrous earthquake and tsunami.
Google has repurposed its Street View vehicles in Japan to help document the damage done and the reconstruction efforts that are being made to rebuild the devastated areas. And even though there are still plenty of skeptics on why Google is doing what they’re doing in Japan, there’s no denying that they’ve used the technologies they’ve developed to lend a huge hand in Japan’s recovery efforts.
[Source: PC World]
Sales of the Prius in 2011 are expected to surpass even the number sold in 2010 says Toyota, despite the disastrous earthquake in Japan that limited production of the popular hybrid.
Toyota has been shifting all its resources to ensure production of its hybrid model is top priority after hitting a 61-percent drop in June of Prius deliveries – the lowest since September 2004. Prior to the earthquake, Toyota anticipated sales of the Prius to leap their record 2007 year of 181,221; though that may be out of reach now, Toyota is confident they’ll surpass the 2010 sales figure of 140,928.
Currently, demand is greater than supply of the Prius, with many dealerships in America having a waiting list of customers. With the average fuel cost going up, demand for hybrid models has also been going up.
More importantly for 2012 and beyond, Toyota will be expanding the Prius line with the addition of the Prius v wagon, subcompact Prius c and the electric plug-in Prius, potentially making it their number-one selling model line within the next decade.
[Source: Automotive News]
Yu Muroga was driving along peacefully in Japan when the earthquake and tsunami hit. We’re not quite sure why he had a HD camera running on the dashboard, but we’re certainly amazed by the footage it captured.
Even though the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan needs no real introduction, very few videos have surfaced that showed the incident from this point-of-view. In fact, watching the video is a pretty surreal experience, something you’d expect out of a Hollywood blockbuster.
It starts off with an unsuspecting in-car point-of-view as the earthquake rocks the earth. It’s worth mentioning that the footage probably didn’t capture the huge one, but rather one of the aftershocks before the actual tsunami came. As the car pushed on to wherever it was trying to head to, the tsunami hits and flooding occurs. From there it’s heartbreaking to see people getting stuck in their cars or climbing to the roofs of their cars seeking refuge from the oncoming flood. It’s really something else to see cars floating around in a sea of water helplessly and how devastating the events were in Japan over three months ago.
Check out the video after the break. Continue Reading…
Speaking to its US dealers, American Honda Motor Co has said that they can resume taking orders of smaller, made in Japan offerings such as the Fit subcompact and Insight Hybrid.
The news comes as consumers in the US continue to look for more fuel efficient vehicles as gas prices hover around the $4 per gallon mark. Acorrding to American Honda’s Executive Vice President John Mendel, the company has “turned the corner,” when it comes fixing supply issues that followed in the wake of the March 11 earthquake in Japan. As a result, he expects production to return to “almost normal levels,” by August.
The news is welcome relief for dealers, whose supply of smaller cars was running desperately low in some cases. Mendel reiterated that dealers still needed to be aggressive on the sales and marketing front to move metal, even if stockpiles are returning to normal levels.
As a result of parts and vehicle shortages, Honda’s sales were down by some 22 percent in May. Although Fit production is back on track, supply of the company’s most popular cars in the US, the Civic and four-cylinder Accord, still remains limited.
[Source: Automotive News]
Still struggling in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which severely disrupted production, Toyota Motor Co has said that it expects it’s full-year profit for 2011 to fall some 31 percent short of original projections.
Net income is expected to decline to some 280 billion yen ($3.5 billion) for the 12 month period ending in March, versus income of some 480 billion yen ($6 billion) for the same period a year earlier. Global vehicle sales are predicted to shrink to some 7.24 million units, versus 7.31 million last year. A strengthening yen is also eating into the company’s revenue.
Nevertheless, Toyota is trying to be optimistic about the future. In Tokyo today, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, Satoshi Ozawa, said “Toyota will do it’s best to recover from the delays in delivery.”
However, there still remain some significant obstacles on the way to recovery. The high value of the yen, almost reaching post World War II levels, is making Japanese industry less competitive against South Korean and European rivals; not helping matters is the fact that Toyota boasts a greater ratio of vehicle manufacturing in Japan than it’s main competitors such as Honda and Nissan.
[Source: Automotive News]
Hyundai-Kia will outsell Toyota and Honda in May sales, according to TrueCar. TrueCar expects Hyundai-Kia to sell 115,434 units in May. This number represents an increase of 43.4 percent over May 2010 making the Korean group a 10.9 percent market share putting it number three behind Ford and GM.
Hyundai-Kia has gathered a momentum caused by the earthquake slow down affecting Honda and Toyota. The earthquake caused a shortage crisis and low incentives, contributing to the Korean’s expected third place rank.
“There have been some real and perceived shortages of Japanese vehicles, and the message to consumers when they look around in the media is ‘you might as well not buy something,’” Toprak said. “But the truth is that if Hyundai-Kia didn’t have the right type of products at the right time, they wouldn’t have been able to capitalize on this opportunity.”
TrueCar expects inventories for Japanese automakers to continue to be low in June, especially for fuel-efficient models built only in Japan.
Toyota’s plans to resume full production capacity have been reported pretty frequently, but they are moving on track faster than those reports suggest: the world’s largest automaker believes that it can bring Japanese production back to 90% of pre-earthquake levels, by next month.
Toyota also believes that given until August, production will be right where they left off before the earthquake of March 11th. Previously, CEO Akio Toyoda had claimed that production would be at 70% by summertime, already an improvement by two months. Now, it seems Toyota is projecting even more success on their production goals.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
The Earthquake disaster in Japan may prompt European car makers to seek suppliers closer to them, the chief of Europe’s automobile association said.
Ivan Hodac, secretary general of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, said that some car makers are still being affected by the disaster that caused several Japanese auto manufacturers to suspend operations. Hodac also stated this disaster affected many automakers outside of Japan.
Hodac also added that European auto makers want suppliers to be much closer, ostensibly to prevent any future production disruptions. The issue of a possible free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan, Hodac expressed fears that such it would provide a “one-sided advantage” for Japan. Hodac would prefer an agreement based on a level playing field instead.
[Source: Just Autos]
Toyota Prius sales have drastically risen as the price of gasoline officially reached $4 per gallon in the US. Car buyers are flocking towards high-mileage vehicles and because of Japan’s earthquake and the subsequent disruption of hybrid production, prices have spiked accordingly.
According to Toyota spokesman Mike Michels, as gas prices climbed past $4 a gallon in 2008, the Prius was in such high demand that the amount of time they sat on dealers’ lots was “measured in hours,” rather than days. The demand for hybrids has resumed once again and dealers are scrambling to get their hands on as many hybrids as possible.
[Source: Toyota In The News]
Reports of the Toyota Prius V’s delay have been greatly exaggerated. According to the company, the Prius V is on track for a U.S. fall debut, after all.
The Prius V had been previously reported to be delayed across all markets, due to the Japanese earthquake. But a brief note from Toyota USA’s Torrance, California headquarters stated that American deliveries of the hybrid minivan/wagon will start in the fall, as previously planned.
The Prius V promises 60 percent more cargo room than the current Prius and aims to deliver 42-mpg city and 38-mpg highway for a combined total of 40-mpg using the same hybrid synergy drive as found in the current Prius.
In Japan, however, the Prius alpha (as it’s known over there) will still be delayed, due to the earthquake.
GALLERY: Toyota Prius V
JDM fanboys and Honda lovers everywhere are sure to wince at the above photo, showing yet another side to the devastating Japanese tsunami.
Were it not for info provided by Ichishima-san of Spoon Sports, we might not be able to guess that this blue and yellow liveried heap was once an RSX Type R race car. The team found the remains of the RSX a little over 3 miles from their shop and it’s amazing the damage it went through.
The rubble in the background serves as a reminder of just how devastated Japan still is.
GALLERY: Spoon Sports RSX Race Car
To help Japan recover from the recent earthquake and tsunami many foreign companies have donated to relief charities. Aston Martin is the latest to contribute. It’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Ulrich Bez is giving up his personal Rapide super-sedan at the Bonhams Auction at Newport Pagnell, with all proceeds going to Japan.
He said; “Nobody could have failed to be moved by the recent events in Japan and we at Aston Martin are no exception. After many years presence in the market and closer ties being forged with the Japanese automotive business in recent projects, we have many friends in the region and we wanted to do something to help. The Bonhams Aston Martin Auction seems the perfect platform to encourage the extended Aston Martin family to support this cause, so we have decided to auction my Rapide which I have used in my role as Chief Executive to represent Aston Martin at numerous events in both UK and Europe. I hope this superb car will raise a substantial amount to help make a difference.”
This well appointed, V12 luxury car will hit the auction stage on May 21. The new owner will get a great car and help a great cause at the same time.
Nearly two months after the devastating earthquake in Japan, Honda is still reeling from the effects—and forcing to juggle production schedules in America and back home.
Honda is suspending orders of its vehicles built in Japan for the months of June and July. Production of the CR-Z, Civic Hybrid, Fit, and Acuras TSX and RL are being suspended until further notice; supply shortages are still to blame as Japan rebuilds.
And in America, every single Honda production facility will be running full production shifts from May to the beginning of July, twice a week. After that, suggested Honda spokesperson Ed Miller, who knows. But Honda has already been running two shifts per plant, before the earthquake and its resulting parts shortages.
Still, Honda’s showrooms, Honda’s dealers, and most importantly Honda’s consumers will be feeling the direct results. The company claims that normal production, like at Toyota, will resume within a year. Let’s certainly hope so.
[Source: Automotive News via Autoblog]
It’s almost a perfect storm. The aftermath of the deadly earthquake in Japan, combined with a dramatic increase in oil prices fueled by the ongoing crisis in Libya and the reduction in domestic stockpiles is pushing up the price of new automobiles in a manner not seen in years.
Already Toyota, Ford and GM have announced price increases for their vehicles, with others set to follow suit. But an interesting trend is the price of small cars. Compared with a year ago, the average price for these vehicles has increased by some 4.2 percent, in the subcompact segment it’s even more – 6.3 percent – according to website TrueCar.com.
Although, given the global nature of the auto business today, companies across the world are facing disruptions, those that are most affected remain Japanese brands. So far, Nippon based companies have delayed the introduction of some 500,000 vehicles because of supply issues resulting from last month’s quake and one industry analyst predicts that amount will grow to some 3.6 million vehicles worldwide by August.
However, this current set of circumstances might provide an opportunity, particularly for Detroit car makers, who’ve been struggling in recent years. In particular, demand for such models as the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze, both of which have been well received, could result in some buyers shifting their allegiance from Japanese brands, which have dominated the market for small cars for so long. The situation is likely to exacerbated by the fact that some models, particularly those imported from Japan such as the Toyota Prius, are currently in short supply, a scenario that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
Nevertheless, although many automakers are rethinking their supply chains as a result of the issues in Japan, it’s unlikely there will be a major realignment in the way parts distribution and production are configured, at least in the short term.
However, given the current economic environment, the auto sector is becoming less of a buyer’s market by the day, particularly for small cars. As a result those consumers in the market for a new vehicle, are likely better off to take the plunge now, while there’s still good deals to be had, rather than sitting on the fence and waiting.
[Source: Detroit Free Press]
Many car companies have suffered and Toyota, the largest car company in Japan is no exception. Their production delays will have an effect on Toyota dealers in America.
In a letter sent to Toyota dealers on April 10, 2011. Toyota U.S.A. Division General Manager Bob Carter said, “Today we have good levels of inventory, but inventory will be getting tighter. What we don’t know are vehicle production levels for May through July. The potential exists that supply of new vehicles could be significantly impacted this summer.”
Currently, over 300,000 new Toyota’s are in stock, and the spare parts supply business is so far not effected. Production at Toyota’s North American plants is now running at three-days a week, and the Japanese production facilities are running at 50% of their normal capacity.
Shipping has been affected also, with Toyota to ship vehicles from Japan once every two weeks, with stops at six or more ports on each voyage, said Carter.
[Source: Automotive News]
The world of racing is often only focused on getting to the podium, but at the this weekend’s Grand Am series race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., three Mazda race teams will be doing their part to help raise funds for American Red Cross for Japan relief.
The teams in question are Dempsey Racing, Team Sahlen and Speedsource, and they each will be displaying special graphics which would encourage people to donate $10 by texting REDCROSS at 90999.
“The devastation in Japan is so overwhelming and we wanted to help in any way we could,” said Sylvain Tremblay of SpeedSource Inc, who came up with the idea to race with special graphics on the Mazda race cars. “We will be donating all race winnings from Car #70 to the American Red Cross Japan relief efforts.”
Dempsey Racing shares the feeling, saying; “It’s been just three weeks since the tragedy in Japan and already news updates have begun thinning out, while the people of Japan still need so much help,” said Joe Foster of Dempsey Racing and who co-drives car #40 with Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey. “We are hoping to generate a second round of donations to the Red Cross this weekend by keeping Japan top-of-mind with both the racing community and our fans.”
Team Sahlen will be racing cars #42 and #43. “We are hoping to help make a difference by spotlighting the Red Cross efforts to assist Japan,” said Will Nonnamaker, team driver.
The Mazda Foundation in America has already made a $150,000 donation for the Japan earthquake and tsunami relief and is encouraging its dealers to do the same.
Honda Motor Company; which has been one of the hardest hit of all Japanese automakers in the wake of the massive earthquake in the home islands, has announced that Japanese production will resume on April 11.
This follows on from news that shipping of Honda components destined for factories outside of Japan was to resume on April 4; however in both cases, the company remains cautions. In the case of vehicle production; Honda said that it will likely only reach 50 percent of pre-earthquake capacity, at least in the short term.
Vehicles built in Japan for the North American market include the Fit subcompact; Insight and CR-Z hybrids; the Civic Hybrid and some CR-V models, availability of which is likely to remain affected for the next several months.
[Source: EGM Cartech]