Filed under: China , Government/Legal , Japan , Plants/Manufacturing , Honda , Mazda , Toyota
Filed under: Car Buying , Honda , Toyota , Volkswagen , By the Numbers Volkswagen, Honda and Toyota Post Big Gains If you want evidence that the economy is on the mend, look no further than the string of positive monthly sales reports coming from the auto industry this year. August continues the trend with the vast majority of brands and companies reporting improved sales numbers compared to the same month last year, Volkswagen (+62.54 percent), Honda (+57.88 percent) and Toyota (+47.5 percent) leading the way for major manufacturers. Honda and Toyota’s big gains are easy to explain. Just repeat the line we’ve been using all summer about these two Japanese giants enjoying the fruits of restored production capacity following last year’s onslaught of natural disasters in their home region. Volkswagen’s big jump, however, is harder to explain, and looks to be consolidated mostly in the Passat model line where sales jumped from just 314 last August (before the midsize sedan was redesigned) to 10,090 last month. Smaller sales gains from the Golf , Jetta , Beetle , Tiguan and Touareg also contributed. Another individual model that jumped out at us while compiling the numbers is the Ford Escape . The all-new 2013 Escape is a big departure in both style and content compared to the last generation, which sold very well even into its waning months. We’ve been curious to know if consumers would embrace the new Escape’s slicker shape and higher price. The answer is a resounding yes based on last month’s sales of the new model, which totaled 28,188 units, a 36.8-percent improvement compared to last August and a number high enough to make the new Escape one of the industry’s best selling models overall last month.
Filed under: Sedan , Honda , Nissan , Toyota Belts and pulleys will continue to replace traditional gears in the coming years as more carmakers turn to Continuously Variable Transmissions to suck the fun out of future machines increase fuel economy. According to a new Automotive News report, by the numbers, about one percent of new vehicles were equipped with a CVT in 2005. By 2010, that number of new vehicles in the U.S. grew to seven percent, thanks largely to Nissan , not to mention an increase in the number of hybrid models sold in America (most of which are fitted with the technology). Experts at IHS Automotive now predict that percentage will more than double by 2016 to 16 percent. The belt-and-pulley transmission can adjust to an engine’s torque in an infinite number of ways, making it more efficient than traditional gearboxes. But CVTs have become the bane of many enthusiasts and critics because of a number of undesirable characteristics – namely the unpleasant ‘rubber band’ sound they emit under hard acceleration. According to Automotive News , Japanese carmakers appear especially interested in adding CVTs to their lineups. Honda is widely expected to offer a CVT on its next-generation four-cylinder Accord , Toyota may include a CVT on its future Corolla , and the CVT stalwarts at Nissan introduced its 2013 Altima earlier this year with an upgraded CVT that helps it achieve 38 miles per gallon on the highway. While CVTs continue to improve, some providing faux programed “shift points” through sport programs or paddle shifters, they remain a non-starter with most enthusiasts we talk to.
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: Recalls , Safety , Crossover , GMC , Honda , Saturn , Toyota The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is evidently keeping itself very busy these days, as the federal agency has just announced it is launching or renewing investigations into Toyota , Honda and General Motors crossovers. 2006-2008 model year Toyota RAV4 crossovers are under review for allegations of rear tie-rod rust which can result in failure. NHTSA also said it is probing some 35 complaints about 2005 Honda Pilot models with inappropriate activation of the vehicles’ stability control system. The alleged malfunction can cause the vehicles to slow down or stop in bad unsafe situations. At the moment, NHTSA is reviewing a petition regarding the Pilot issue, a move that will determine whether it needs to open a full-blown investigation. In addition, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia three-row crossovers built in 2007-2009 are getting looked at for “loss of low beam headlamp” function. One complainant said the wiring in his Outlook overheated and melted. NHTSA says it has received 415 complaints about the problem and a GM spokesman confirmed that the automaker already started a “Customer Satisfaction Program” in December to address the issue. Toyota spokesman Brian Lyons tells the The Detroit News , “We will fully cooperate with its [NHTSA] investigation.” At least four of the complaints about the RAV4 claimed the tie rod failed at speeds above 35 mph, resulting in a loss of control. The NHTSA investigation summary states, “Pictures provided by some complainants show the wheel adjacent to the failed component severely out of wheel alignment with respect to toe and camber.” No word on the timeframe for these investigations before it can be determined whether or not a recall is warranted.
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: Etc. , Honda , Mazda , Mitsubishi , Nissan , Toyota During a meeting of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, Toyota president Akio Toyoda offered a ” Chapeau! ” to his fellow CEOs by listing his favorite cars from other makers. He listed just one vehicle from five makers represented on the board, in alphabetical order: the Honda NSX , Isuzu Bellett, Mazda Cosmo, Mitsubishi Pajero (our Montero ) and Nissan Skyline. Toyoda didn’t give his reasons for choosing these car beyond each being “memorable.” Even so, going through the list any car enthusiast knows the Honda ( Acura in the States) NSX needs no introduction nor explanation. The Mitsubishi Pajero is probably as well known for it’s off-road excellence as it is for its name change in Spanish-speaking lands due to the word “pajero” – all the more intriguing when it’s apparently named after an Argentine cat, Leopardus pajeros . And although the “Skyline” moniker was made famous overseas by the GT-R , the Nissan Skyline that Toyoda references has a long history and is our Infiniti G . The Mazda Cosmo (pictured) was an Italian-esque little coupe produced from 1967 to 1995, the first series production vehicle with a two-rotor rotary engine. The Isuzu Bellett was that firm’s in-house replacement for the English Hillmans it was rebranding, the first Japanese car to get GT badging (it would also get a GT-R version), and it would cover just about every segment with sedan, coupe, station wagon and pickup truck variants. Toyota CEO lists favorite cars from other automakers originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 21 May 2012 17:35:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds .
Filed under: Car Buying , Hybrid , Etc. , Toyota How much do hybrid drivers really, truly like their cars? According to R.L. Polk, not all that much – at least not in 2011. Polk has released a new hybrid loyalty analysis that concludes that only 35 percent of people who bought a hybrid bought another one last year. The data comes from car purchases made in 2011, and Polk found that Toyota Prius drivers are the most loyal, both to the gas-electric technology and to Toyota itself. Sixty percent of Toyota hybrid owners bought another vehicle from the automaker, even if it wasn’t a hybrid. A recent J.D. Power Customer Retention Study found that the average brand loyalty was 49 percent, but that doesn’t take powertrains into account. According to Polk, forty-one percent of Toyota hybrid drivers choose to buy another hybrid (from any brand).
Filed under: Car Buying , Etc. , Chevrolet , Ford , Honda , Toyota Today’s vehicles are more powerful, more efficient and safer than ever before. In fact, today’s car buyer would be hard pressed to spend his or her money on a genuinely bad vehicle. But those overall improvements may have also led consumers to believe there are no real differences between the various products offered by the world’s major automakers. According to the Consumer Reports 2012 Car-Brand Perception Survey, Toyota , Ford , Honda and Chevrolet have all seen their scores drop by double digits compared to last year. The survey asks consumers to rate brands across seven categories. Consumer Reports says that by combining those categories, the organization can get a handle on how each brand is perceived in the marketplace. This year, Toyota continued to lead in the survey, though its persistent recalls saw the brand’s perception fall by 17 points this year. Ford, Honda and BMW all saw their perception scores plummet more than 20 points. The results may indicate consumers are seeing fewer differences between automakers as products continue to improve.