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.
Congratulations, you’re all grown up! At this point in life you’ve probably made it through college with more than an associate’s degree in the field of interpretive dance; you’ve more than likely claimed a life partner that’s the opposite gender and of breeding age and, consequently, you’ve manufactured a genetic replica or two. You’re going places, and you need a suitable vehicle for this exciting new lifestyle.
Coming to grips with the taxing nature EVs can have on a residential power grid is causing some car companies to explore products more akin to the housing market than the auto industry.
BMW is the latest company to announce special plans and research designed to counteract that burden by rethinking how homes use electricity. The German automaker expects to have a demo home as part of their Mountain View, Calif. technology office, completed by the end of March.
The home is designed to efficiently charge their EV, the ActiveE, which is a variation on their 1-Series while maintaining flexible power consumption to compensate for increased consumption during charging times.
Toyota introduced something similar in October, 2010 called the Toyota Smart Center, which they said would be commercially available in 2015… Do you love your Camry enough to let the same person style both your car and home? In Japan, Nissan built a demo house called Kan-kan-kyo for the same purpose.
As for BMW, they’ve paired up with Tendril, an energy management company that is helping provide data to fully examine how an EV changes household power consumption.
“We’re keen to understand how utilities will gain benefit from a program like this,” Tendril CEO Adrian Tuck said to the New York Times. “The car guys don’t want to have 3,000 relationships with all the different utilities.”
Tuck also said that even a small number of EVs charging at once could actually create demand peaks. While we’re still a long way off from having electric vehicles in every driveway, or even more than a handful per city, it could feasibly create a problem.
The auto industry is not known for sharing ideas between competitors, in fact that behavior routinely rips contracts between car companies to shreds, but keep your eye out for some serious copy cat strategy down the road.
Chevrolet is offering Volt owners a service via their OnStar system and a smartphone app that will show sources of renewable energy. That sort of power is at its peak availability during otherwise off-peak hours, encouraging Volt owners to charge off-peak.
Perhaps a similar service will be available in the future from other companies as well. For now, there are only 700 BMW ActiveEs available by lease, so it seems unlikely that they will actually market streamlined home services any time soon.
GALLERY: BMW ActiveE
[Source: New York Times]
Toyota has issued a recall for 2010-2011 Corollas and 2011 Siennas sold through Southeast Toyota Distributors (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina) that were installed with non-Toyota aftermarket entertainment, navigation and Bluetooth systems on the A-pillar.
The dealer-installed aftermarket equipment may not have been installed properly with the retention clip for the A-pillar trim panel being damaged in the process. As a result, the A-pillar trim could potentially come loose during an accident and cause additional harm to passengers.
A total of 518 vehicles are affected by the recall, but Southeast Toyota estimates that only 25-percent of those vehicles have damaged A-pillars. Nonetheless Toyota would rather play it safe and will be notifying customers this month and the dealers will replace the defective clips free of charge.
The South Korean auto market has long been dominated by domestic automakers like Hyundai and Kia, but Toyota is planning to make a play by sending 6,000 American-built Camrys to South Korea.
Deliveries will begin starting in January, 2012. Toyota has been exporting the Sienna minivan since November, and also sells the Corolla, Prius and RAV4. Toyota is evidently looking to take advantage of a new free-trade agreement signed between the U.S. and South Korea, as well as take advantage of favorable exchange rates between Korea and the U.S.
Our big question is, with Korean cars (especially Camry competitors like the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima) so good noawadays, why would any Korean consumers even bother buying them.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
Toyota is issuing out a recall of 210,000 Siennas from their 2011-2012 model year for a labeling issue. The recall is relatively minor, with Toyota equipping the Siennas with stickers displaying the incorrect vehicle capacity weight.
The recalled Siennas do not comply with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 110, “Tire Selection and Rims.” The NHTSA issued out a warning for Sienna owners since they can accidentally overload their minivan as a result of the incorrect decals. An overloaded van could ultimately cause tire failure, obviously increasing the likelihood of an accident.
The recall will be a quick fix, with Toyota planning to mail out corrected stickers and updated manuals to their customers.
With November vehicle sales numbers released, Toyota‘s Sienna still tops the minivan market, but Dodge‘s Caravan in closing in closely for the year while Honda‘s Odyssey and Chrysler‘s Town & Country are no real threat to take the 2011 sales lead. Chevy‘s Camaro however is at the top by a huge margin, compared to its Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger rivals.
While the Sienna has clearly enjoyed success throughout 2011, but only has a 882 vehicle lead to Dodge’s Caravan for year-to-date sales. Toyota is nearing the 100,000 mark with 99,865 Siennas sold through November while Honda’s Odyssey is at 95,579 and Chrysler’s Town & Country is at 84,701.
For your favorite domestic sports coupes, Chevy’s Camaro has no real rival when it comes to sales with its figure coming in at 81,495 compared to Ford’s 65,381 Mustangs and Dodge’s scant 36,250 Challengers.
And despite Saab’s production being halted last spring, they managed to sell 356 vehicles in November bringing their year-to-date sales to 5,340 vehicles.
[Source: Automotive News]
The Toyota Sienna and the Dodge Grand Caravan are neck-in-neck to become the top selling minivan of 2011. What it will come down to will most likely be determined by parts availability and end-of-year consumer deals… and perhaps a fleet transaction could pull one automaker ahead of the rest?
Here’s what it looks like so far. As of the end of October, the Dodge Grand Caravan was in first place with 92,930 sales, followed closely by the Toyota Sienna with 91,955 sales. In third is the Honda Odyssey with 86,436 sales and in fourth is the Chrysler Town & Country with 78,255 sales.
There are a few factors that could make or break this race for the top spot. The first is parts availability, and with the earthquake and tsunami drastically affecting production, Japanese minivan sales could suffer. Another is end of year deals, and to really make a push for the close of 2011, both Toyota and Dodge could pull out some pretty sweet sale prices to give the automakers’ respective vehicles an edge in the competition. Finally, fleet sales could turn out to be the secret weapon that drives one competitor out above the rest. Dodge, Chrysler and Toyota sell minivans to fleets, but Honda doesn’t, so a final fleet push could be just what cinches the race.
What minivan do you think will win the race? And is Chrysler crazy for having announced it will discontinue the Grand Caravan?
[Source: Automotive News]
Do people still buy minivans? That’s what Polk Research wants to find out.
With a common aversion to minivans that lies somewhere between stubbing a toe on furniture and ebola, it’s interesting to see that from last year, minivan sales have actually gone up. From a nice, even 3 percent of light vehicle sales in 2010, sales of the minivan increased .2%. But then again, this is the tail end of a trend from 2007 that saw a high of 4.3%, and slipped sharply last year.
Manufacturers are well aware of this too. Out of these minivan sales, a whopping 92% come from just four models: the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country, and Dodge Caravan. The other 8% consists of the Kia Sedona, Volkswagen Routan and the Nissan Quest.
Those, of course, are the only minivans sold on the market today. Gone are Ford and GM, for example, among others: manufacturers have known that consumers have avoided minivans for years now, and as a result are replacing them in their lineups with SUVs. Polk’s data supports this: last year, over 40% of customers who ditched a minivan replaced it with either a midsize or a compact SUV. 21% went with a midsize car, and given America’s aversion to small cars as well as minivans, only 16% bought one of those instead.
Since 2007, the number of minivans available on the market has dropped from 15 models to 7. Of course, all of this leads to a neat, tidy little Catch-22. If manufacturers decide that consumers aren’t buying minivans, they’ll stop making them. But if consumers can’t find the right minivan to choose from, they won’t buy one. So which came first: the manufacturers who won’t build minivans because nobody’s buying them, or the consumers who can’t find one to buy in the first place?
Toyota is launching its “100 Cars for Good” program, where the company will donate 100 cars to various non-profit groups. Facebook users will choose which groups will receive the vehicles via a voting process.
The winning organizations will get to choose from a selection of vehicles, including the Prius, Tacoma, Tundra, Highlander Hybrid, Sienna or Sienna Mobility. The vehicles will also come with a six year, 100,000 mile service contract that will cover vehicle repairs after the warranty period has expired.
Soccer moms sometimes get a raw deal because of the vehicle of choice. But it’s not like they have much of a choice – a minivan is the best-equipped vehicle to haul their aspiring David Beckhams to games and practices. It’s time to stop mocking the soccer mom, and automakers are setting out to make the minivan cool… but will moms jump on the minivan band wagon?
At the recent Detroit Auto Show, a group of mothers from MomsLikeMe.com critiqued the latest wave of minivans. For the most part, they liked all the new creature comforts they came with, but when it came to the vehicle’s cool factor, they just couldn’t see it becoming any hipper than it already is (which means, not at all). They agreed that the minivan is all about practicality, not style sense.
“It is not worth the hassle to try and stuff everything and all your kids into a regular car,” said Patti Cleland, a 42-year-old mother of three from Grosse Pointe Woods.
The MomsLikeMe crew check gave critiques of the all-new Ford C-Max, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Grand Caravan and Volkswagen Routan. Even though it was smaller, the C-Max scored high marks, and so did the Sienna, thanks to its four up-front cupholders, the dual moonroofs and the reclining second-row seats with leg rests.
[Source: The Detroit Free Press]
We regret to inform you that the subject matter behind the enticing title won’t live up to whatever thoughts are circulating in your head. Rather, Forbes’ list of “Americas Dirtiest Vehicles” has to do with pollution and gas mileage, and is mostly comprised of cars we ourselves would want to own.
Forbes used a variety of factors to determine what qualified for the list, with both carbon emissions and fuel consumption factoring in to the economy. “Heavy Duty” trucks were left off the list, as well performance cars that only get driven on special occasions, like the Ferrari 599 GTO (and, apparently, Mercedes’ AMG lineup).
Hit the jump to see the list for yourself
Kia‘s Sedona minivan, an often ignored but solid bargain in the minivan segment, gets a new grille for 2011, along with an upgraded powertrain.
The Sedona’s new V6 puts out 271 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque with power being put down through a 6 speed manual transmission. This gives the Sedona a 27 horsepower gain over the old motor, but a 5 lb-ft loss…not that it matters.
With all new versions of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Chrysler Town & Country and Nissan Quest about the flood the market, the Sedona has a tough fight ahead. But with a low MSRP, it’s destined to achieve at least some success.
Minivans are deeply uncool. For men especially, buying one carries the same emasculating stigma that wearing a pink shirt once held. But after a long period of poor sales (and having the segment ravaged by crossovers) minivan sales are on the rebound, thanks to some especially strong product.
On the other hand, right now isn’t a bad time to be selling Honda, Chrysler/Dodge or Toyota minivans, as those four minivans comprise 91 percent of the market; the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town and Country. Kia’s Sedona and the Volkswagen Routan comprise the other 9 percent, while nameplates like the Nissan Quest, Plymouth Voyager, General Motors’ minivan family and the Hyundai Entourage have all fallen victim to slumping sales.
On the other hand, minivan sales are slowly rising, posting a 3.4% gain for 2010. Sienna sales are up 72%, and some analysts think they could be higher if not for Toyota’s quality problems. With new versions of the Odyssey and Nissan Quest slated to debut later this year, the segment could see a resurgence as consumers shy away from fuel-thirsty and overly-large crossovers and SUVs.
[Source: Kicking Tires]
Hit the jump to see Toyota’s “Swagger Wagon” Sienna commercial
The marketing folks for Toyota are taking a unique approach to the new Sienna minivan, opting to raise interest (and eyebrows) with a new “Swagger Wagon” commercial that has a regular family gangsta-rapping about their new wheels.
The whole thing is actually very well executed – like the new Sienna. And with the top trim Sienna looking more like a Lexus (inside and out) and costing like a Lexus too – P Diddy might just approve.
Check out the video after the jump, plus we’ve thrown in another video that we have a feeling Toyota’s marketing folks have seen. It’s Canadian comedian Jon Lajoie in ‘Everyday Normal Guy.’
And be sure to check out our review of the 2011 Sienna at the link below:
***UPDATE*** 2011 Toyota Sienna Info and Pictures Available Here ***UPDATE***
Has the crossover killed the minivan? Toyota doesn’t think so.. not yet, at least. Japan’s largest automaker has announced that it will debut the all-new 2011 Sienna minivan at the Los Angeles Auto Show in early December.
There are no details about the future of the Sienna but we expect Toyota to take an “evolutionary” approach. The minivan segment continues to shrink and so its unlikely huge resources were devoted to creating the new Sienna, but there will no doubt be plenty of innovative new features. Toyota is one of a shrinking number of manufacturers still making minivans, with all of the domestics (save Chrysler) dropping their family haulers in favor of crossovers.
We’ll be sure to bring you full info and pictures of the new van with live coverage or the LA Auto Show starting December 2nd.
Official release after the jump:
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]