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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.
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]
Everybody stop what you’re doing. The 2011 Toyota Camry has received a slight fuel economy bump for 2011, with the V6 model 20 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway, up from 19 and 28 mpg from last year’s model.
New low-rolling-resistance tires help with the fuel economy raise, and for those that want more, the 4-cylinder (22 and 32 mpg respectively) and Hybrid (31/35 mpg) are much more sensible alternatives.
Hit the jump to find out more about one of America’s most utilitarian cars, and its 2011 updates.
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.
Kyle Busch isn’t without controversy both on and off the track. And while his fellow NASCAR drivers might have an unflattering thing or two to say about him, there’s no denying Busch is a force to be reckoned with on the race track. In an unprecedented set of events at Bristol, Tennessee, Busch drove two Toyota Camrys and a Toyota Tundra (no… not at the same time) to sweep the NASCAR weekend, becoming the first driver ever to do so.
The three events Busch swept were the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. It was definitely a historic achievement for Toyota’s presence in NASCAR, and for Kyle Busch and his team. Now if only he could play nice with the other drivers.
Official press release available after the break.
As part of a world-wide recovery plan, Toyota vehicles will get a standard front end treatment designed to unify the global lineup of Toyota vehicles. The new move is dictated by head honcho Akio Toyota’s directive to make Toyota cars have more “emotional appeal”, although its hard to see how the company can inject that into its appliance-like vehicles.
Sources say that regional considerations will have to be taken into account; the basic look of the car will be the same throughout the world, but markets such as China might get more chrome, for example. The new design language will also help their smaller cars appear bigger, in a bid to further standardize designs across world markets.
[Source: Inside Line]
An Indiana post office was evacuated Tuesday after a suspicious package was discovered, addressed to a Toyota factory. The package was determined harmless by a local bomb disposal technician, but the scare follows 3 other suspicious packages sent to other plants as well as Toyota USA headquarters.
According to police, the package originated in Nigeria, and contained a small metal tube with electronic parts inside. Similar packages were sent to Toyota plants and offices in Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas. Both Toyota and law enforcement officials have no idea what is motivating these bizarre hoaxes and will not comment on their nature. The FBI, as well as other federal officials are now investigating the matter
[Source: USA Today]
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]