Posted by Dale Buss on November 21, 2013 06:43 PM
The stream of brand news out of the Los Angeles Auto Show has never been stronger. More carmakers are using the exhibition as a launch platform. And while the vehicles and features they're choosing to introduce have a decidedly green tint, that's the way the industry is headed anyway.
As the event heads into the public-exhibition phase, which is expected to draw record attendance, the Los Angeles Auto Show today saw Honda Accord named "Green Car of the Year" by Green Car Journal, an increasingly sought-after designation in an era when alternative powertrains comprise much of the cutting edge of the auto business. The addition of hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions of Accord helped seal the deal. Two diesel-powered cars, Audi A6 TDI and BMW 328d, were the other finalists.
Honda also drew interest with its sleek FCEV hydrogen-fuel-cell concept car. And executives announced that the 2014 Honda Civic compact will come equipped with a continuously variable transmission, a technology that smooths shifting as the car accelerates and saves fuel as well as boosts driving enjoyment.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 29, 2013 01:48 PM
When the first American-built Ford Fusion rolled off the assembly line at a Ford plant in suburban Detroit today, it marked more than the start of expanded availability for the popular new version of the mid-size sedan, more than the addition of 1,400 jobs, and more than a complete return to the Ford fold of a plant that for the last several years had been making Mazdas under a partnership.
The short ride for the first car also represented the biggest manifestation yet of a re-Americanization of the auto industry that is reshaping the business around the globe.
For Ford, expanding production of Fusion at its plant in Flat Rock, Mich. was an easy decision from an operational point of view. Sales of the restyled new version of the car grew by 13 percent for the first seven months of 2013 compared with a year earlier, but Ford actually has been losing sales lately because its plant in Hermosillo, Mexico, hasn't been able to supply enough new Fusions to the US market.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 27, 2013 09:27 AM
Bill Ackman gives up stake in JCPenney.
Samsung confirms Galaxy Gear Smartwatch for Sept. 4.
Billabong reports record loss and writes down value of brands.
Adobe has some bold plans for online ad business.
Amazon exposes cloud's dark lining with weekend outage.
Apple plans to launch trade-in program for iPhone, report says.
AT&T sees its commercial straight man leap to Saturday Night Live.
Best Buy will see founder unload some of his shares this year.
Chevrolet does deal with University of Texas Longhorns for Silverado.
Cracker Barrel revamps menu with lighter dishes and rejects activist investor's third attempt to join its board.
Ford ramps up output of Fusion to challenge Toyota's Camry.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 2, 2013 06:32 PM
Toyota finally has some serious competition for the American hybrid-car buyer. Ford has committed to the segment like no second brand has ever done before, and is making up huge ground with its C-Max and Ford Fusion hybrids.
But Toyota remains king of the battery mountain with its Prius brand. The company reported an overall increase in hybrid sales in June of 19 percent over last year, with sales of the Prius family of vehicles specifically rising by 10 percent, to more than 21,000 units for the month. Year-to-date, Prius sales are more than 120,000 units, and after the first half of the year, Toyota continues to account for more than half of all alternative-fuel vehicles sold in the US market.
"We're right on track to hit our target for the year," Bill Fay, Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager, told automotive journalists on Tuesday.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 4, 2013 03:38 PM
Just as the conventional wisdom in the auto industry used to be that Toyota's quality always would be unparalleled, the thought has been that Ford would never catch General Motors in US sales volume.
But these days, just as Toyota's grip on the quality crown is being threatened by some other auto makers, Ford has come within a whisper of beating GM in sales. In May, on the strength of a 14 percent year-over-year sales gain, Ford came within 6,000 units of besting its long-time larger rival in US sales, as GM posted just a 3 percent relative gain.
"It's not necessarily saying that GM's performance was bad, becasue it wasn't," said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst for Edmuncs.com, according to The New York Times. "It was just that Ford was better. Ford has a balance in their portfolio, while GM is a little more hit or miss."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 31, 2013 02:38 PM
When General Motors introduced the most recent generation of its Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan in 2007, it was quickly hailed as one of the company's best new products in many years, and it helped set the stage for the post-bankruptcy sales revival that the company would begin experiencing in 2009.
But not so with the newest Malibu, the 2013 version: Critics panned it, and even GM has admitted it's not up to snuff. What's remarkable, however, is that the company already has pivoted quickly to producing a new "mid-cycle" version of the car that addresses many of its shortcomings and is already bringing it out as a 2014 Malibu after a fast-tracked, 18-month development effort.
"The mid-sized sedan segment is the most contested in the industry," GM North America President Mark Reuss said in a statement. "We're not sitting still with the 2014 Malibu." Rapidly made improvements include an improved 2.5-liter engine with stop-start technology, an improved suspension and what GM called "a more refined ride," a broader grille on the front end, and "sit-deeper" new rear-seat cushions.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 10, 2013 07:12 PM
Paying it forward and even Random Acts of Fusion are such five-minutes-ago concepts. Now Toyota, on behalf of its Prius Plug-in hybrid, has launched what it calls the Positive movement in the UK—the "movement brightening Britain with a car that runs on electricity, fuel and positivity," as a press release puts it.
Star of the "movement" is fashion blogger Caroline Burke, an expert in body art, fashion and beauty who's known as Burkatron. In a new film that Toyota has debuted as part of the campaign, Burkatron is seen outfitting random passers-by with fashion accessories and vintage finds in the Boxpark in East London.
"Caroline's blog is about sharing things, all to do with fashion," Mark Norcutt and Laurnce Quinn, Toyota creative directors at Saatchi & Saatchi, said in the release. "For her positive idea she used her contacts to donate clothes, then was able to go around and collect them all in the Prius"—all while, in another act of positivity, taking advantage of the car's zero emissions in the all-electric mode that has a range of up to 15.5 miles.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 9, 2013 05:37 PM
A series of bedrock presumptions has dominated successive eras of the US auto industry. The first one was that the domestic Big Three would be on top forever. A second and more recent "truth" was that Japanese imports were unbeatable.
Now, a third truth that has been part of the presumed backdrop of the industry for nearly a generation may be set to fall this year. That's because Toyota Camry and Honda Accord no longer are shoe-ins to be the best-selling mid-size cars in America for 2013.
They long have reigned; Camry has been America's best-selling car for 11 consecutive years, having taken over around the turn of the century from the Ford Taurus. The Honda Accord, through its various generations, typically was right on the heels of Camry, sales volume-wise. Other mid-size entries didn't stand a chance of matching them.
In the meantime, there's one sales title that none of the four mid-size sedans can aspire to: world's best-selling car. In 2012, Ford claimed that crown with various versions of its Focus, which easily beat out versions of the Toyota Corolla for the No. 1 spot. Ford executives have promised that the Focus would be a global nameplate, and they've made it one—the biggest one. Adding to that accolade, the Ford Fiesta is now the world's best-selling sub-compact.Continue reading...