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The past 20 years were pretty stable in the automotive industry. Mostly predictable releases with a steady rate for manufacturers to introduce new models that seemed like a consistant recipe for success.
Then, suddenly with the start of the current model year, things changed. In fact, it looks like this is just the start of a serious upswing in new releases. According to a story published on CNN Money, the auto industry replaced 16 percent of its fleet annually between 1991 and 2011.
That figure jumped to 23 percent with the 2012 model year, which started in October. Apparently keeping this fresh is the snake oil for successful car companies, because next year that number will grow to 32 percent, effectively doubling the rate new models hit the market. Given this manufacturer mayhem, we decided to round up the new cars you should expect to see soon.
Honda is an interesting case as they’ve recognized that their luxury brand, Acura, is simply being outdone by the competition at every turn. They decided to completely redesign their line to quell complaints that their cars are little more than rebadged Hondas. The first to look for: their new ILX compact sedan. As for Honda, they are already planning to release a new generation Civic after the media chastised them for an uninspired release.
Next up, Nissan. While they don’t hold a big market share in the U.S., Carlos Ghosn, their CEO is making plans to expand the 8.2 percent they have now to ten by 2015. In order to do that, they are revamping half of their entire line. Nissan is targeting the burgeoning EV market with their Leaf, which first became available last year. Look for updated Altimas, Sentras and Pathfinders in the near future.
Toyota suffered after the tsunami, but is coming back with a fury. The automaker is releasing a brand-new sports car, the FR-S, developed in partnership with Subaru and set to sell with a Scion badge. The RAV-4 and Lexus ES sedan will also get updates.
Chrysler will move toward smaller cars, something the brand has historically struggled with. The shrinkage can be attributed to Fiat, their new owners, and how their new 40 mpg Dodge Dart borrows heavily from the Italian engineers.
Ford and GM are trying to hang on to their chunky market shares, 17 and 19.7 percent respectively. Both companies are following the industry strategy: refreshing their popular sellers and releasing redesigned cars in their luxury brands. Look for a re-engineered Lincoln MKZ from Ford and Cadillac‘s new compact ATS and larger XTS sedans from GM.
Finally, there are some changes in the pipeline for German luxury cars. Audi just confirmed that their compact Q3 SUV will be sold in the U.S., along with the re-release of the compact A2 sedan. Mercedes-Benz is opting to offer their smaller B-Series and A-Series cars to remain competitive in the Yankee market.
[Source: CNN Money]
Q3 or not Q3? That is the question. Audi is weighing the merits of bringing its trendy entry level compact crossover Q3 to the U.S. market. Putting economic feasibility into the highest consideration, Audi has to guarantee the Q3′s success by determining the size of its demand and price sensibility. Audi North America CEO Johan de Nysschen stresses Q3′s MSRP must be low enough to entice buyers yet high enough to gain profits.
An unusual detail for an automaker to stall upon, Audi is currently executing a strategic front to gain a stronger market share in the upper luxury segments, notably for the A6, A7, and A8. Perhaps reluctance to throw the Q3 into the mix may in part be an entry model’s conflict to a premium image.
Moreover, BMW has delayed bringing its X1 crossover to the U.S. market as well. An Audi Q3 competitor, the X1 may be reconsidered for the United States after its midlife facelift.
Other Audi models coming into the United States include the A3 sedan for 2014. A ploy to attract owners of the older, smaller B5 generation of the A4, the intelligently packaged A3 is a very attractive model as the A4 sedan grows in size after every redesign.
GALLERY: Audi Q3
The Q3 will be built in Martorell, Spain, in a plant normally reserved for SEAT. Volkswagen recently spent about 330 million Euros in upgrading the facility in anticipation, and is betting big on the Q3: hopefully it can reclaim the crown of Europe’s favorite premium SUV away from the BMW X1.
“The Q3 production is an example of how we are making use of synergies within the Group,” said Frank Dreves, an Audi board member. “The Martorell factory is an extremely productive facility with a highly skilled workforce, and one that meets the exacting quality standards of our brand.”
The Audi Q3 starts in Germany at €29,900. Word’s still mum on whether handbag-dwelling chihuahuas will be glaring down the precariously close bumpers of left lane “hogs” on this side of the Atlantic.
Audi has finally unveiled the Q3, the compact SUV ready to do battle against the BMW X1.
In Audi’s relentless quest to leave no niche unturned, the Q3 is the dinghy to the Q5′s and Q7′s superyachts. At about 14.4 feet long, it’s a tick bigger than the A3, at 13.9 feet, and its styling—which Audi says is “coupe-like” and “one-of-a-kind among SUVs” mimics that of its older siblings to a tee.
Under the hood, the Q3 will be equipped with four engines: a 140-horsepower 2.0 TDI diesel and two TFSI gasoline engines with either 170 or 211 horsepower. All three are turbocharged and direct-injected, and all three feature energy-recovery and start-stop systems for maximum mileage-wringing. In true Audi form, quattro and trick transmissions will be available, including a six-speed manual and a seven-speed S-tronic.
Technology options include a 14-speaker Bose surround-sound system, LED headlights with corner-adapting xenons, lane assist, hill hold assist, and self-parking with 12 sensors, and wireless Internet through Audi connect—accessible through a 7-inch screen that pops up from the dash.
When it goes on sale in June, Audi will offer off-roadand S Line sporty styling packages, and no less than twelve colors for the exterior. Expect at least 9 of those to be monochrome.
Audi has yet to announce if the Q3 will make its way to North America.