A reader sent us a link to a Mexican handling test of Nissan’s new, front-drive Kicks crossover, and one glimpse of the vehicle’s “moose test” will have you on your knees, thanking the deity of your choice for electronic safety nannies. We all know that high-riding vehicles suffer from an inherent top-heaviness, born of a high center of gravity and compounded by long suspension travel. As SUVs grew in popularity in the ’90s, a slew of alarming videos arose showing popular SUVs flipping or riding on two wheels while swerving sharply to avoid a object, then recovering. The moose test is the ultimate test of a vehicle’s stability, and it’s the test most likely to see a tall vehicle — thanks to rapid weight transfer — roll more than it yaws. Sometimes with disastrous results. The advent of electronic stability control was a godsend for these types of vehicles, helping overcome much of the roll and yaw, but, while it’s … [Read more...] about Be Thankful the U.S.-Market Nissan Kicks Has Standard Stability Control
Last year’s release of the radically revamped 2018 Toyota Camry lent buoyancy to a model seen as the troubled midsize sedan segment’s most resilient nameplate. It has history, name recognition, and a stigma for no-nonsense comfort and reliability. Could you ask for anything more? And so, as other sedans, including the equally fresh Honda Accord, started falling away, the Camry retained its sales volume, finishing the first half of 2018 with a slight year-to-date increase. July brought bad news, however. While the Toyota brand performed worse than the industry average last month — sales fell 6 percent, year over year — it was passenger cars that earned the brand its volume loss. And even the Camry’s partly to blame. Truth be told, the Camry’s U.S. sales began slipping in March, but the sales lead built up in the preceding months allowed it to coast till summer with a positive, but diminishing, year-to-date figure. July sales figures show that lead … [Read more...] about July 2018 Midsize Sedan Sales: Toyota Camry Finally Slips Into the Red
Ugh, you say. Wagons. A painfully uncool body type you swore off during childhood and haven’t reneged on since. A body type drooled over and feted by journalists who never put their meagre income where their mouth is. Yes, wagons. They remain part of our our automotive landscape, just a vanishingly small part of it. But who’s buying them, and where? We have the answers. Thanks to a study published by JATO Dynamics, we can now gauge the wagon market’s global health. As you might expect, the patient isn’t doing all that hot, but there’s promising signs of life in that market where all future automotive hopes lie: China. But you don’t care about that, do you? You want to know that the United States accounted for 9 percent of the wagons bought in 2017. Europeans ran off with 72 percent, while the Chinese matched America’s thirst for this sometimes stodgy, sometimes gorgeous body style. More on that in a bit. For 2018, the U.S. market picked up two … [Read more...] about Wagons Ho! What’s Going on With the Station Wagon/Shooting Brake/Estate Car Market?
The American car market in May reflected several stereotypes, not the least of which being that Jeep is the engine that’s currently driving the FCA machine. The picture as a whole? Well, it’s largely flat, with continued light truck demand seeming to offset dips in car sales. A good example of this is Toyota, which reported a 1.3 percent decline for the month of May before going on to explain that car deliveries were down 11 percent but light trucks were up nearly 6 percent. Like LeBron James, a man who single-handedly lifts the Cavs by scoring 50 points in a game only to see JR Smith throw it all away by thinking the score is tied, Jeep was largely responsible for FCA’s good fortunes in May. Proving the off-road brand remains the most valuable part of the empire, Jeep was up 28.8 percent last month — an increase of over 20,000 units. This is not an aberration; the brand has increased sales by 22.5 percent so far this year, up nearly 70,000 units during the … [Read more...] about May 2018 U.S. Auto Sales: FCA Is the House That Jeep Built
With an extra selling day compared to the March that came before it, last month saw U.S. new vehicle buyers continue doing what they’ve done for years. By that, we mean snap up trucks and SUVs like it’s going out of style. (There’s no indication it’s going out of style.) According to figures from Autodata, truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent in the U.S., year over year, while traditional passenger cars continued to fade from the minds of new vehicle buyers. That segment declined 9.2 percent, year over year. Monthly sales figures can be fickle, which is apparently the reason for General Motors’ switch to quarterly sales reports starting next month, but we prefer receiving data more often. And last month’s data paints a very different picture than February’s. Leaving SUVs aside, which pickups soared in March? If you suspect the bottom didn’t fall out of Ford F-Series demand, you’d be correct. Ford claims last month was the … [Read more...] about March 2018 U.S. Truck Sales: Springtime for Hauler
Amid the Chicago Auto Show hoopla last week came reports that Mercedes-Benz was considering dropping out of next year’s Detroit Auto Show, news that has since been confirmed. I was invited to a dinner with journalists by an OEM during the Chicago show, and while eating, the PR guy posed a question – “Does the auto show still matter to you guys?”Immediately, all in attendance agreed that the shows are as important as ever to consumers and the dealers who sell them cars. Which makes sense – the shows are usually run by dealer associations, with the intent of generating sales leads.For us in the media, though, it’s been an open question. Thanks to changes in technology and how both journalists and PR departments do their jobs, many journalists now find it easier (and cheaper) to cover the shows from home (especially if they snagged embargoed material in advance).Not to mention that automakers are increasingly spending time and money on off-site reveals … [Read more...] about QOTD: Do Auto Show Media Days Matter to the Consumer?
There’s always big money in the collector car market. Auction houses like Mecum and Barrett-Jackson simply roll the shiny and tempting classic metal (like that Purp Drank Impala SS) across their blocks. The old folks (or their buying representatives) in the audience quickly and happily shill out huge sums for the privilege of adding a pretty and desirable machine of yesteryear to their collection.Let’s see if we can’t predict the not-so-old vehicles that will appear on these illustrious auction blocks in the future.We’re not going to impose too many rules today, just one rule and one general principle.Your predicted vehicle must be 15 years old or less, which leaves it 10 or more years to age into classic status at 25. This rule eliminates the mid-90s Japan metal that’s easy fodder. 2004 or newer.There needs to be some real reason your selection(s) might become collectible. “The Corolla S will be collectible because I like it” is not … [Read more...] about QOTD: Which Newer Vehicles Are Destined for Collector Status?
January started strong for several automakers in America, with the industry shifting 1,157,407 cars and light trucks last month. That represents a 1.2 percent increase over this time last year.More than one company is guilty of padding its numbers with fleet sales, though. In one instance, it represented nearly a third of January’s reported sales for that automaker.Combined, Nissan and Infiniti moved 123,538 machines last month, marking a full 10 percent increase over January 2017, thanks to the marque’s portfolio of trucks, crossovers, and SUVs. However, according to Automotive News, fleet deliverers surged 48 percent last month for that automaker, cresting the 40,000-unit mark. Basic math tells us, then, that a full 32.5 percent of Nissan’s reported sales were to fleets. That percentage is even higher if one backs January’s 10,635 Infinitis out of the equation.To be fair, this could simply be a case of Nissan fulfilling a huge order at the beginning of … [Read more...] about Fleet Week: January’s U.S. Auto Sales Buoyed By Fleets
With the automotive market continuing to cool off, the industry went into 2018 with a less than optimistic view. Volume for the year is anticipated to continue its downward trend but, incredibly, January appears to be on par with the same period last year — if not slightly better.Did the analysts get it wrong? Probably not. Incentive spending was up across the board and that’ll likely be the case throughout the rest of the year. The real trick will be for automakers to keep their lineups appealing without going wild with discounts. That’s because the annual forecast still calls for lower volume than in 2017.Not everyone is in agreement, though. Cox Automotive and J.D. Power actually expect sales to rise about 1 percent, year-over-year, while Edmunds, Forbes, BMI Research, Nord LB, the Center for Automotive Research, and practically everyone else projects anywhere from a 1-to-2 percent decline. This January could end up being an outlier where auto deliveries … [Read more...] about So Far, 2018 Auto Sales Are Better Than Expected; Thank Dangerously Heavy Incentives
Despite Volkswagen delivering an impressive 10.74 million vehicles in 2017, Nissan-Renault Alliance head Carlos Ghosn says his automotive group was actually the top sales dog. VW managed a 4.3-percent increase over last year’s volume and set a new record for itself, but Ghosn argues that doesn’t matter if it’s counting heavy truck sales in its total sum.“The [Renault-Nissan] alliance, with more than 10.6 million light private and commercial vehicles sold in 2017, is the premier global automobile group,” the CEO told a parliamentary committee hearing in Paris.“That has just been confirmed after Volkswagen this morning announced its sales of 10.74 million, including 200,000 heavy trucks, which we do not include in our statistics,” Ghosn explained, before adding “there can be no further discussion.”While the CEO’s savage burn on Volkswagen is accurate, had the alliance included heavy trucks as part of its final tally, the … [Read more...] about Ghosn Says Nissan’s Alliance Makes It the Biggest Dog in the Auto Yard