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Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

Chevy Sonic Could Be Next as GM Kills Off Slow-Selling Passenger Cars

Several more plants also on endangered list.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.18, 2019

The Chevy Sonic is limping along and appears ripe to be discontinued by GM.

In the northern Detroit suburb of Orion Township, one of General Motors’ assembly plants is hanging on by a thread. The factory is barely running on one shift and, were it not for the Chevrolet Bolt EV, might have been a fourth plant on the list of assembly lines GM said it would shut down last November.

The automaker has actually increased production of the all-electric Bolt in recent months, but demand for the Chevrolet Sonic, the other model rolling off the line there has dropped to less than 2,000 a month, barely enough to bother, it seems.

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TheDetroitBureau.com first warned that the subcompact Sonic was on the endangered list in April 2017 and now, it seems, its fate may be sealed. The Wall Street Journal is reporting Sonic’s days are numbered, though a spokesperson for Chevy says that, at least for now, there is nothing formal to be announced. (more…)

Farley Says Ford Following a Different Game Plan for EVs

"Mustang-inspired" EV to make profits fast too.

by Michael Strong on Jan.16, 2019

Ford's Jim Farley said the company is comfortable trailing the pack on EV development, as it has a different plan.

Once considered one of the leaders in race to produce a viable electric vehicle, Ford Motor Co. has fallen behind rivals like General Motors and its new partner, Volkswagen AG.

However, if you listen to Jim Farley, Ford president of Global Markets, the company feels just fine about trailing the pack.

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“Our strategy is different,” Farley said last night at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. “In a way we had the advantage of watching what happened the first time around. What customers have told us is ‘Just give us the good stuff.’ We’re going to change a lot of people’s minds.” (more…)

EVs Aren’t Ready to “Take Over the World,” Says Toyota’s Lentz

North American CEO warns “It’s going to be a battle” are models flood market but sales lag.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

Toyota's Jim Lentz believes the auto industry is putting too much stock – and money – into electric vehicles.

By various estimates, there should be as many as 100 all-electric vehicles on the market by the end of 2020, with scores more plug-ins and conventional hybrids already available. And that could pose a major challenge for automakers who are investing billions into the market to build battery-based vehicles. That includes Toyota which is investing about $1 billion to open up a new plant in U.S. in a partnership with Mazda that will, among other products, produce a new line-up of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

The question is whether all that money could be going down a rathole. For the moment, at least, Tesla appears to be the only automaker making any money on battery vehicles, as a number of industry leaders pointed out during a series of events in Detroit this week.

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That included Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America, who warned that, “It’s going to be a battle,” as manufacturers struggle to grab customers in a market where “There’s not much growth.” (more…)

BMW Updates Flagship 7 Series

In an SUV era does it matter?

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.16, 2019

BMW's new flagship model, the 7 Series, is ready to hit the road, borrowing some styling cues from the X7.

In an era of exotic SUVs like the Rolls-Royce Cullinan, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, do sedans really matter anymore? Can a conventional four-door model still be considered a “flagship?”

That’s a question BMW is trying to answer with the launch of the updated, 2020 7 Series. But it’s takes just one look to recognize which side of the product line-up is influencing the other. With the all-new X7 set to roll into showrooms in short order, it looks like the SUV is setting the tone for the sedan.

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Just one glance at the image shown here and you’ll see what that means. As a midcycle update, there’s a limit to what the Bavarian marque can achieve, since it won’t be able to change the underlying platform for a few years. Nonetheless, you can’t miss the massive new version of the traditional BMW double-kidney grille that looks like it was lifted whole from the new X7. (more…)

New President, New Strategy for Infiniti

Luxury brand wants to downsize its ambitions.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.15, 2019

Infiniti's new boss, Christian Meunier, plans to streamline the luxury brand's product portfolio.

Nissan’s luxury division Infiniti has a new president. And Christian Meunier has a new strategy for the brand, one that downsizes the marque’s line-up but which he is confident will also make Infiniti more nimble and responsive to changing consumer trends.

The automaker offered a hint of where it is going during a news conference at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Monday – or at least it tried to. But the QX Inspiration Concept vehicle didn’t want to cooperate, refusing to budge from its hiding spot behind the stage. It was eventually towed out almost two hours after the event ended.

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Glitches aside, the electric concept vehicle is meant to showcase a variety of trends Infiniti is looking at, including autonomous and electrified technologies, as well as the shift from conventional sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. While the timing for Infiniti’s first self-driving vehicle to reach market is uncertain, it intends to “electrify” all of its models by 2021, whether using pure battery-electric power or as plug-in hybrids. (more…)

Hyundai Powers Up With New Elantra GT N Line

Targeting the tuner crowd with sporty looks and performance and “compelling price points.”

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

The 2020 Hyundai Elantra GT N Line gives the South Korean brand another entry into the hot hatch segment.

Hyundai continues evolving away from its roots as a basic econobox brand, and the Elantra GT N Line coming to the North American International Auto Show suggests the Korean carmaker will be delivering a lot more sporty products going forward.

The GT becomes the first American offering to carry Hyundai’s new N Line badge – but it clearly won’t be the last. Globally, we’ve already seen several more models added to the performance sub-brand, Veloster N, i30 N and i30 Fastback N, with more expected to follow.

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“Hyundai N models satisfy the needs of performance-oriented enthusiasts with exclusive, custom-tuned powertrain and chassis applications,” said Thomas Schemera, executive vice president of Hyundai Motor Group’s Product Planning & Strategy Division.” “N Line is designed for those buyers craving N’s sporty styling cues coupled with performance-tuned suspension upgrades, all at compelling price points.” (more…)

Kia Goes 3-Row With New Telluride SUV

Korean carmaker reveals its biggest model ever.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

Kia is playing catch up when it comes to its sport-utility line-up. The new Telluride is a big move in that direction.

Automotive designers like to keep an eye on the fashions of the day – which helps explain why we got a first look at a concept version of the new Kia Telluride at New York’s Fashion Week last autumn. Now, the actual production version of the three-row SUV is making its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Like sibling brand Hyundai, the Korean carmaker clearly needs what will be its biggest vehicle ever. The American market has shifted rapidly from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs during the last several years, short-circuiting what had been a decade of substantial growth.

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As was widely expected, the production model is all but identical to the ute we saw in New York, minus some extreme touches like the snorkel, bumper-mounted, spare, ladder and, oddly enough, the hat box on the roof. (more…)

Nissan Hopes To Electrify With Debut of IMs Concept

Detroit show car hints at expanded line-up of battery-electric vehicles.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

Nissan's IMs concept hits the Detroit Auto Show just after the company rolled out its longest-range Leaf ever.

Barely a week after unveiling the latest – and first truly long-range – version of its Leaf battery-electric vehicle, Nissan is offering a glimpse at where it is “imagining” its future in the form of the all-electric IMs “elevated sports sedan.”

The concept vehicle debuting at the North American International Auto Show pushes the envelope when it comes to three key trends: the shift from sedans and coupes to SUVs and CUVs. It also features a pure BEV drivetrain, a technology Nissan promises will dominate its line-up moving forward. The show car also adds autonomous driving capabilities. Add them together and, Nissan suggests, its future models will feature a distinctly different approach to design, as well.

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“Advances in electric vehicle technology and autonomous driving have allowed our designers to break free of the platform and packaging rules that constrain traditional passenger vehicles, to create a completely new type of car,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president for design at Nissan. “The IMs explores the limits of sedan design with an approach that elevates the category in both look and functionality.” (more…)

Long-Awaited Toyota Supra Finally Set to Break Cover at NAIAS

The icon is back after nearly two decades away.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

Toyota chief Akio Toyota welcomed back an "old friend," the new Toyota Supra at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

At a generally quiet 2019 North American International Auto Show one thing seems certain: there’ll be plenty of buzz as Toyota lifts the covers off the reborn Supra.

Though the automaker did tease us last year with a track version of the sports car, as well as a heavily disguised version of the street model during the summer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, this is the first time most of the world will see it, sans camouflage, as the Toyota Supra makes its return after a 17-year global absence and a 21-year deficit in the U.S. market.

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(We did get a sneak peek over the weekend, however, thanks to Toyota Mexico which issued a tweet declaring, “Our new #Supra arrived in Japan!, and this is the story that #AkioToyoda tells us about its return”, with an accompanying video profiling the sports car.) (more…)

Ford Adding Hybrid, High-Performance ST Models to Explorer Line-Up

“An Explorer for every adventure.”

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Jan.14, 2019

Ford is expanding the Explorer line-up to include a new high-performance ST model and a fuel-efficient hybrid.

Considering the growing importance of SUVs and for Ford, in particular, the role that the Explorer plays, it’s no surprise that the automaker will be offering more versions of the big utility vehicle than ever for 2020, including a first-ever hybrid and an all-new performance variant, the Explorer ST.

Ford gave the world a first look at the fourth-generation Explorer at a splashy event in downtown Detroit last week. It saved the two new versions for a Monday debut during the North American International Auto Show. The entire Explorer line-up is set to roll out of Ford’s big Chicago Assembly Plant a few months from now.

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“This new generation of Explorer recognizes that every family – and every driver – is unique,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s executive vice president of product development and purchasing. “With an all-new ST and an all-new hybrid, there truly is an Explorer for every adventure.” (more…)