Filed under: Car Buying , Budget , Sedan , Technology , Ford , Toyota , Design/Style As 2013 Ford Fusions begin rolling into dealerships, Ford can say that it has finally created the mythical Toyota Camry fighter. It’s something we’ve heard again and again from Detroit’s carmakers, always poised but never able to deliver a midsize sedan that will outsell the venerable Camry. This time, however, Ford may have a case. Offering five powertrains, including a 47 mpg gas-electric hybrid, a powerful 2-liter model, all wrapped in a sexy exterior, the Fusion makes a strong case that it deserves a spot at the top of America’s most cutthroat segment. But numbers don’t lie. Last year, Ford sold 248,000 Fusions. This year, sales are up 7.7 percent through August at 181,000 cars, making the Fusion Detroit’s top selling midsize car in America. But it’s not even close to the top selling midsize car in the U.S., it’s not even the third best selling midsize sedan. The Camry is on a big rebound. It has sold 280,000 cars this year alone, and sales are up 37 percent.
Filed under: Truck , Work , Ford , Toyota , Volkswagen , Holden , Australia , Diesel PickupTrucks.com has turned to its friends in Australia for a look at a few of the most popular midsize pickups found Down Under. The result is the Global Pickup Shootout that pits the reigning-champion Toyota Hilux against the Holden Colorado , Volkswagen Amarok and the Ford Ranger . Each truck was faced with a battery of tests that included on-road and off-road performance as well as design and value evaluations. How did the results shake out? The Toyota Hilux, which hasn’t seen a significant update since 2005, is clearly starting to show its age. The truck consistently found itself at the back of the pack, which resulted in a fourth-place finish overall with 29 points. By comparison, the third-place Volkswagen Amarok performed well in the overall value and design segments, but fell behind elsewhere. The German pickup took home 34 points in the evaluation. The real story here is just how close the first, second and third-place finishers were in the shootout. The Holden Colorado went home with just two more points than the Amarok, thanks largely to its first-place off-road performance, but fell to the Ford Ranger by just one point.
Filed under: Car Buying , Chrysler , Ford , Toyota , Volkswagen Global marketing and communications firm Strategic Vision has announced the results of its annual Total Quality Index. In the 2012 edition of the study, Volkswagen Group of America achieved the highest rating in Total Quality. This marks the German automaker’s second year of achieving the accolade. According to the press release from Strategic Vision, the runner up spot was actually a tie between Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Company. Strategic Vision factored in vehicles like the Audi A4 and A8 , as well as notable VW vehicles like the Golf , Eos , and Tiguan in its study. The study also pointed to the quality of vehicles like the Flex , F-150 , as well as the Fiat 500 for such a tight finish between Ford and Chrysler. Toyota came out with the fewest reported problems of any brand. According to the study, only 17% of Toyota owners reported having problems. Strategic vision says this was its closest finish in “Total Quality” that it has ever reported. According to the release, “Customers are increasingly defining ‘quality’ holistically and using Total Quality in their decisions.” In assessing the Total Quality Awards, Strategic Vision calculated the results from surveys sent out to 45,390 individuals who purchased new 2012 model year vehicles from September to December of 2011.
Filed under: Sedan , Truck , Ford , Honda , Toyota Put on your flag shorts and Liberty Bell hat. Cars.com has released its American-Made Index , proclaiming that four out of the top five American-made vehicles are Japanese brands. The Toyota Camry , built in Kentucky, was ranked the most American vehicle sold today, with the Michigan-built Ford F-150 coming in as the second-most American vehicle. The Honda Accord , Toyota Sienna and Honda Pilot round out the top five. And yes, all of these models are available in red, white or blue. Cars.com’s criteria for selecting the most American vehicle includes sales volume, percentage of American sourced parts and where the vehicle is assembled. Vehicles must have at least 75 percent domestic parts to even qualify for the list, which kept the F-150 off last year. However, the accounting system devised by Cars.com was called “flawed” by the American Automotive Policy Council , which represents Detroit’s car makers in Washington D.C. “The truth is: Three of the 16 major automakers doing business in the U.S. – Chrysler, Ford and GM – produce more than half the cars assembled here, use twice as many U.S.
Filed under: Car Buying , Chevrolet , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Toyota Ask any sales and marketing executive from Chrysler , Ford or General Motors what their company’s greatest challenge is and they will unequivocally reply, “California.” The Golden State accounts for 12.5 percent of all new car sales in the United States, but even more importantly, it is seen as a bellwether for the nation. As the home of the entertainment and consumer electronics industries, California has an outsized reach into our nation’s popular culture – but Californians have historically been among the least receptive to domestic products. There’s some evidence that trend may be changing, as domestic market share has been improving in the recent years, according to Forbes . Ford has seen its Blue Oval brand improve from seven percent in 2008 to over nine percent last year. Chevrolet topped six percent last year after three years of growth. Even Chrysler, which had a market share of less than four percent in 2010, has seen growth – to five percent in 2011 and almost six percent so far this year. Still, those numbers are a pittance compared to the import brands. According to The Detroit News , domestic automakers have a combined 30.8 percent share in California, well below their 44.3 percent national average. The domestics’ recent growth in California – the Japanese and Korean manufacturers’ “home turf” – has certainly been helped by supply shortages at Honda and Toyota , companies beset by natural disasters last year. If domestic automakers are going to continue to take share from foreign competition, they’re going to have to have more success stories like the recent surge in Chevrolet Volt sales, a phenomenon spurred by the availability of High Occupancy Vehicle lane stickers for GM’s plug-in hybrid.
Filed under: Car Buying , Etc. , Ford , Honda , Hyundai , Lexus , Toyota ALG reports both Ford and Hyundai have seen substantial jumps in their respective perceived quality, with the Blue Oval enjoying a 37 percent jump since 2008. Hyundai, meanwhile, has seen its figures increase by 25 percent over the same five years. For industry watchers, the news should offer no real shock. Both manufacturers have been on a new-product warpath, offering models laden with fresh design, efficient drivetrain options and plenty of technology while steadily increasing quality. The increase has been enough to push Ford to fourth on the list of brands with the highest perceived quality with a score of 70.5. That score puts Ford just behind Subaru with a score of 71.1. Ford and Hyundai may have had strong showings, but Honda has snagged top honors among mainstream brands with an 81.3 perceived quality score, followed by Toyota with 80.1. Lexus walked away with the highest rank among luxury brands, followed by Mercedes-Benz and BMW . Cadillac , Lincoln and Jaguar , meanwhile, all fell below the luxury average of 71.2 points.
Filed under: Government/Legal , Crossover , Cadillac , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Toyota , Earnings/Financials , Luxury Detroit must be good SEO for CNN, as it continues to point to the Motor City and tell carmakers everything they’re doing wrong. I imagine most manufacturing companies enjoy getting advice from the media. We’re so good at it. For the most part, the ideas just rehash things you probably already knew. Carmakers certainly do. Who doesn’t want higher residual values? Who doesn’t want to build and sell more luxury vehicles? Family sedans? But what I find more upsetting are some idiotic statements, such as comparing the percentage of crossovers built by one company that doesn’t have a full-size truck to one that does. It makes for some neat numbers, but unfairly so.
Filed under: Etc. , Plants/Manufacturing , Chrysler , Ford , GM , Honda , Toyota , Canada TheDetroitBureau.com reports 5,000 Canadian Teamster union members moved to strike against the Canadian Pacific Railroad after last-minute negotiations failed to reach a fruitful agreement. As a result Chrysler , General Motors , Ford , Honda and Toyota have all seen their vehicle shipments bottlenecked. The railroad company has closed a full 15,000 miles of track across both Canada and the U.S., and the Canadian government has already threatened take action to put an end to the standoff. Those tracks typically handle a large portion of vehicle commerce, including moving both complete cars and components to and from manufacturing facilities. According to TDB, Canadian Pacific Railroad serves auto manufacturing facilities across Ontario and the U.S. Midwest, helping to link those plants with sister locations in Mexico . Chrysler says the company is currently investigating alternative shipping methods in the event the strike continues much longer. Honda, meanwhile, has said CR-V shipments have already been impacted by the issue. Canadian railroad strike could pinch U.S.
Filed under: Car Buying , Ford , GM , Hyundai , Kia , Toyota , Earnings/Financials The annual “Car Wars” report by Merrill Lynch analyst John Murphy predicts that, despite their seizing of U.S. market share over the last few tumultuous years, Korean brands Hyundai and Kia will give it all back and then some to companies like Ford , General Motors and Toyota by 2016. Murphy bases his predictions not on tea leaves or crystal balls, but rather the rate at which automakers launch new products. Ford will replace 26 percent of its product line over the next four years, a number that represents 46 percent of its volume, while General Motors will replace 25 percent and Toyota 24 percent. On account of these new product launches, Murphy says Ford can expect to add 0.8 percentage points of market share, General Motors will recover 0.5 points and Toyota will add another 0.3 points. Other automakers that won’t be so aggressive in turning over their lineups with new models include Chrysler , Honda , Nissan and the European brands, which Murphy surmises will all remain flat in terms of market share. Hyundai and Kia, meanwhile, will be introducing fewer new models than the rest and therefore, Murphy predicts, will see a 0.5 decline in U.S. market share. Of course, these are all just predictions and can be blown to bits with the next unforeseen economic crisis or natural disaster, just like the last three years were. And there are other factors that might affect market share for each automaker during the next three years, including the availability of raw materials, exchange rates, union contracts, recalls and a million another minor things that might grow to become big things, not the least of which is consumers deciding they actually like all those new products being launched.
Filed under: Hybrid , Minivan/Van , Wagon , Europe , Hatchback , Ford , Toyota , Electric Ford dealers have started taking orders for the 2013 Ford C-Max Hybrid , the company announced today. The gas-electric hybrid will arrive later this year with a starting price of $25,995, undercutting its most direct competitor, the Toyota Prius V hybrid, which has a base price of $26,550. “C-Max Hybrid offers better fuel economy, performance, technology and functionality than Prius V – and C-Max Hybrid customers will pay less at the dealership and at the pump,” said Ken Czubay, vice president, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service, in a press release. More importantly, Ford will provide some stiffer competition for Toyota , which has ruled the hybrid market, selling 77 percent of all hybrids in the U.S. this April. The C-Max will only be offered in the U.S. as a hybrid, similar to Toyota’s Prius strategy. There will also be an all-electric version, known as the C-Max Energi , that arrives this fall. Ford sells the C-Max, which is built on Ford’s compact car platform, in Europe as a gas powered model.