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The Latest News And Reviews
Throughout The Car Industry

Categories: Miscellaneous

Analysts Predict High Automotive Sales In November

On: Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 10:47AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

2011 Ford Explorer test 2

It looks as though November may bring great news for the automotive industry, as well as the economy, as auto sales seem to be shaping up for a strong monthly sales report.

With recent months increased demand for trucks and SUVs, U.S. light vehicle sales are projected to rise to a level that may equal the fastest pace in 2010.  This week, automakers will release November sales numbers, which analysts are estimating to reach an adjusted annual rate equal of 12.2 million units, according to a recent Bloomberg News report. That figure is a close second to October’s gross adjusted annual rate of 12.3 million units.

Volkswagen Sales Way Up In November

On: Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 5:00PM | By: John Welch

2011 Volkswagen Jetta test 2

Volkswagen just rounded out its best November ever in North America, boasting a 24.2% sales increase over previous years. The new, Americanized Jetta has helped, but sales are up across the board. Here are some interesting numbers: Volkswagen sold 4,304 TDi-equipped vehicles in November, and the Chrysler Town&Country rehash known as the Routan saw sales rise by a whooping 98.5%. This statistic only translates to 1,072 units, but it's a wonder they're able to move the flabby, overpriced Routan at all.

The Jetta, historically VW's strongest seller in our market, sold nearly nine thousand units. Though it is a lower quality car when compared with its predecessor, the New Jetta is larger, more butch than the MkV Jetta, and is a stellar deal at five dollars short of 16 grand. Jetta sales were up 40% compared with last year. Toureg sales have literally doubled, VW moving 837 examples of their near-luxury SUV. This has been the best month for the Toureg since 2007. Heck, they even sold 61 Passat Wagons, though I doubt any found a home in the Southeast.

Top Gear USA: Has Potential, Needs Some Work

On: Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 4:34PM | By: John Welch

Top Gear USA: Has Potential, Needs Some Work test 1-1

First of all, let me point out that Top Gear UK was around for 20 years before it was morphed into the program we all know and love today. Jeremy Clarkson has been cracking-wise about cars for a long time; he has a deep, thundering voice, and is very good at belching out sound bite-sized quips while maintaining control of whatever car he may be piloting at the time. Rutledge Wood has been a NASCAR circus clown for the last six years, Adam Ferrara is a stand-up comedian, and Tanner Foust is a race-driver turned SPEEDtv Host-Monkey, and as such has layer upon layer of hokey, Canadian-style television training to shed before he is anything other than wooden in front of a camera. Lower your expectations a might bit, and Top Gear USA can be seen for what it is: a start.

James May and Richard Hammond were both polished writers and public personalities before they began hosting Top Gear. Top Gear UK's producers have a larger budget, more experience and the joys of a British tv schedule working for them—no commercial interruptions equals a 58-minute "hour" instead of a 43-minute "hour". Top Gear USA is haphazard at best, and that isn't the fault of the hosts, producers or the History Channel. Trying to follow in the footsteps of the single greatest television show of all time isn't something one just does . . . it will take many seasons for TGUSA to shine as brightly as TGUK, if it even can. The first episode was not a home run folks, not even close . . . but the second episode displayed significant improvement. Still not "good", but better with the potential to become great.

GM and Ford Will Rank in Top 10 of Best Performing Platforms

On: Fri, Nov 26, 2010 at 11:46AM | By: Sherry Christiansen

GM and Ford Will Rank in Top 10 of Best Performing Platforms test 1-1

GM and Ford Motor Company are two automakers on track to build some of the top performing platforms in the world. Both automakers have designed global car platforms that will be the structural base for their top vehicles throughout 2015 model year, according to Daniel Chang, consultant from AT Kearney. The top platform in the world is currently Toyota’s Camry platform. None of Detroit’s Big Three automakers are on the list of the top 10 performing platforms in world-wide auto sales. But all that is about to change; in 2015 Ford’s Focus platform is projected to take 3rd place worldwide followed by GM’s Cruze platform which will be number 4.

Development of new platforms can cost automakers millions of dollars and several years to build. High sales of cars such as the Focus can generate the capital it will take for U.S. automakers to stay competitive in the world-wide market.


Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts of Cars Gone By (Quickly)

On: Fri, Nov 26, 2010 at 11:00AM | By: Lou Ruggieri

Haunted Highways: A Series Exploring The Ghosts of Cars Gone By (Quickly) test 1-1

Instead of always trying to be ahead of the world on information and breaking news, sometimes it's better to take a deep breath and look back on what has already come to pass. In this next edition of our Haunted Highways series (see Haunted Highways 3000GT VR4 for our last installment), we aim to do just that. 


Some may argue that the Golden Age of automobiles was the mid to late 1960s; however, there is a compelling argument that can be made for the mid to late 1990s as either a second Golden Age or perhaps even a Renaissance. Although instead of huge displacement and grossly overrated horsepower numbers, these later cars used forced induction and new technology to compete on the highest level of production vehicles. 


The second generation 300ZX was perhaps the epitome of automobile technology, having been the first car to have been designed by the CRAY supercomputer way back in 1989. The 300ZX debuted its new style to Americans in 1990 and continued to evolve for the next six years. The long hood and quick abrupt dropped-off rear end had a polarizing effect, but most seemed to love its new styling, especially magazine editors of the time. The new 300ZX won Motor Trend's 1990 Import Car of the Year, as well as Automobile's Design of the Year and made an appearance on both "Ten Best" lists from Car and Driver and Road & Track.  

Things Are Looking Up For General Motors

On: Tue, Nov 23, 2010 at 12:23PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Things Are Looking Up For General Motors test 1-1

According to many insiders from General Motors, things are really beginning to look up for the Detroit automaker. Last week's successful Initial Public Offering enabled the company to pay off a quarter of the amount owed to the federal government. An Ohio dealer, Chris Haydocy, reported to Automotive News that he was all too familiar with the new name that many consumers had labeled General Motors with“Government Motors.” The federal government becoming 61% majority stakeholder of GM translated to a boycott of Buick, Chevrolet, Cadillac, and GMC automobiles by Conservatives in the Buckeye State and around the country.

After General Motors was able to raise $23.1 billion at its recent IPO, Haydocy and many other dealers feel things will change, and dealers are beginning to feel more hopeful about a rise in sales for all GM brands. According to Steve Girsky, GM Vice President of Corporate Strategy: “Government ownership hurt sales; our studies showed that consumers knew it going into the showroom.”

GM Begins Trading Today With Biggest IPO In U.S. History

On: Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 2:01PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

GM Begins Trading Today With Biggest IPO In U.S. History test 1-1

General Motors is going through a historical turning point as the Detroit automaker’s stock rises sharply, and the automaker returns to its status as a publicly traded company. GM’s Chief Executive, Dan Akerson, revved the engine of a Camaro at the opening of trading today on the New York Stock Exchange to “mark the occasion,” according to Bloomberg News. The stock jumped from its initial IPO price of $33 to $35.80 shortly after Akerson rang the opening bell, or to be more literal, the opening “growl.”

Today’s trading marks an incredible milestone for GM after filing for bankruptcy 16 months ago, when GM accepted a $50 billion government bailout. The U.S. government will reduce its stake in GM from 61% to 26% as part of today’s public offering.

Toyota Predicts Sales Rise in 2011

On: Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 12:49PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Toyota Predicts Sales Rise in 2011 test 1-1

Toyota Motor Corp. is predicting its light vehicle sales to rise as much as 13% in 2011, according to a Toyota U.S. executive. Several factors, including the increase in pickup truck sales, have influenced analysts’ forecast. Sales Chief of Toyota in the U.S., Bob Carter, reports that the company expects its sales to be between 12.5 and 12.9 million units next year; up from this year’s expected number of only 11.4  to 11.5 million.

Investors Underestimate Growth of Auto Industry

On: Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 5:03PM | By: Sherry Christiansen

Investors Underestimate Growth of Auto Industry  test 1-1

Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford Motor Co., reported that he feels investors are not cognizant of the facts surrounding the financial potential of today's auto industry for both domestic and export sales, including China and India. "When people think growth, they think of the Brazil, India, China, Turkey, places like that—which is all true, and we're participating a lot there," according to Ford in an interview  with Reuters. "But we actually think the U.S. is a growth market for us."

Pricing Announced For New Chryslers, Can We Really Call Them New?

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 3:24PM | By: John Welch

Pricing Announced For New Chryslers, Can We Really Call Them New? test 1-1

Chrysler rolled out a series of awful disappointments in the years leading up to their controlled bankruptcy in 2009. New Italian management has stepped in to right the listing ship left stranded by Cerebus and Daimler, and they are setting about bailing the water from Chryslers' decks. One of the first tasks ahead of them pertains to aging models nobody wants. Specifically, the Chrysler Sebring and Town&Country. I have written at great length regarding my distaste for any commuter car being named "Sebring", and since Chrysler is going to label its new people-mover the "200", I won't go into a long, anit-front drive tirade. The Town&Country retains its moniker, and, along with its Dodge Caravan cousin, receives a raft of updates for 2011.

We have covered the 200 in previous posts, nothing has developed on that front, accept for pricing. Expect $19,995 for the base model Chrysler 200, the LX. The fancier Touring model will open at $21,995, while the even more fancy Limited will be $24,495. All of these prices include a $750 destination charge. Something we didn't cover in previous posts; power trains. The base LX Chrysler 200 will feature the usual Mitsu-Chrysler "world engine", in 2.4 liter guise. This four cylinder should supply excellent fuel economy, but forgive us if we are expecting glacial acceleration. The upper trim levels are packing the new PentaStar V6. Highly anticipated, this engine pounds out a class leading 283 horsepower, and is mated to a modern six speed transmission. About damn time.

If the Chryselr PR machine is to be believed, every surface inside the Town&Country has been reworked, enhancing the tactile feel of the vehicle. This is a good thing- we got our hands on a then-new 2010 T&C at last years' Tampa International Auto Show. It was a startlingly bad vehicle, shamed by the quality of the Kia's and Subaru's being shown next door. The dash was hard and unsightly, the trim brittle and falling apart. The stitched leather on the sift knob was peeling off, in a show car! It was a disgrace, and needed improvement about as badly as Mel Gibson needs an anger coach. The Stow&Go functioned well on the show van, the interior tricks were all very impressive, but the van as a whole left lots to be desired. Considering the $25,000 Rolls Royce, I mean, Subaru Legacy sitting next to it, the T&C was a complete joke. It belonged in Mel's rose garden. It was, in a word, terrible.

I'm not reporting anything here that Chrysler isn't aware of. They know what they did, and they know what they have to do to fix it. As evidenced by the C6 Corvettes' seats, that knowledge is not always heeded in the automotive world. Looking at the images Chrysler was nice enough to provide, I'd say the Town&Country has improved, but then, the old van didn't look that bad. Only when you actually got inside did you realize just how cheap and flimsy it actually was. Hopefully not the case with the new T&C. For full press release and image gallery, click inside this post . . .

GM Profits Top Toyota, Ford Tops Everyone

On: Thu, Nov 11, 2010 at 11:47AM | By: John Welch

2011 Chevy Cruze test 2

In a storied turn around the likes of which no pessimistic auto scribe was able to predict, the US auto industry has reversed its fortunes in a short two year span. We aren't out of our global economic anemia just yet, but the car market is already bouncing back in a big way. Global sales may go as high as 70 million vehicles this year, and because of smaller work forces, factory closings and fewer actual brands, automakers have positioned themselves to reap higher profits as the world revives its taste for cars.

Not that they aren't working hard for that money. GM has improved its products across the board, Honda is kicking relative ass on the strength of brand loyalty, VW continues its steady march toward world domination and Ford simply shalacks them all! Here are some hard numbers for you: In the first three quarters of 2010 GM has turned a profit of $4.77 billion. Toyota has only managed $4.46 billion in the same nine month period, while VW claims $4.9 billion. Honda is second on the list with $5.34 billion in profits before September 30th, and Ford demolishes them all with $6.37 billion; more than doubling its profit for the entire 2009 calendar year. The Ford Fiesta and Super Duty trucks are raking in the dough, and now Alan Mullay is enjoying the praise and recognition he so rightly deserves. What happened Toyota? Recalls got you down?