Archive for May, 2011

Japanese car makers to report May sales declines

  After a strong start to the year, U.S. auto sales slowed in May, the result of consumer concerns about a shortage of Japanese cars and higher prices imposed by many auto makers and dealers. May sales of cars and light trucks are expected to top one million vehicles, but that will represent about a 4% decline from a year ago, according to market researcher TrueCar.com. The drop also represents a big a reversal from the growth rate of 20% that the industry enjoyed in the first four months of 2011. Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co. are all expected to report big declines in sales when May results are released on Wednesday, in part because of a shortage of vehicles stemming from the March 11 earthquake that slowed production at their Japanese and North American plants. Anticipating shortages, many …

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The Big Three refocusing on small cars

  After years of being outgunned by Japanese rivals, the U.S. auto industry has made small cars a central part of its strategy, seeking to capitalize on a fundamental shift in the preferences of consumers in an era of fast-rising gas prices. By refocusing on small cars and de-emphasizing the gas-guzzlers that had long sustained the industry, General Motors and Ford in particular are preserving jobs and positioning themselves to prosper. Their efforts are already paying off in the marketplace. Ford’s tiny Fiesta is the best-selling subcompact in the U.S. this year, and GM’s Chevrolet Cruze outsold every other compact car in America last month except the segment-leading Honda Civic. Nearly 1 in 4 vehicles sold in the U.S. in April was a compact or subcompact car, compared with 1 in 8 a decade ago. Of the small cars sold in April, about …

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Nissan Leaf asks Chevy Volt “what if gas powered everything?”

  In what some might call an ingenious commercial, Nissan Leaf takes a cheap shot at the Chevy Volt. The TV spot is called ‘Gas Powered Everything’ The premise of the ad is to show a world that runs on gas instead of electricity. Where all household appliances ran on gas. Imagine the noise, the smog, the inconvenience! Lets see, there would be a gas-powered alarm clock to wake you up in the morning. Moving over to the kitchen how about a gas-powered coffee maker as well as a gas-powered microwave. How about drying you hair with a gas-powered hairdryer. Imagine taking a jog with a gas-powered ipod strapped to your upper arm. How about making a call with your very own gas-powered cell phone. Envision all the computers in the office running on gas and fitted with a gas pedal to help start them …

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Luxury car sales are on the upswing

  Eighteen months ago, customers at Jim Snell’s Land Rover dealerships sometimes bought new SUVs that looked just like their old ones. That way, neighbors and colleagues might not realize that they had purchased a $60,000 vehicle in the midst of a fierce recession. “With people out of work and worried about the economy, it probably wasn’t the time to be calling attention to your new car,” Snell said. But bling may slowly be coming back — along with rising consumer confidence. Luxury-vehicle sales are increasing as the stock market gathers steam, spurring interest in hot new vehicles such as the Audi A7, Maserati GranTurismo convertible, Porsche Cayenne and Land Rover Evoque. High-end car sales are an interesting economic indicator because they are purely “want” purchases, made when people with considerable incomes feel good about the future. Buyers at Snell Motor Cos.’ dealerships in Dallas, Frisco and …

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Toyota and Honda lose market share in May

  The full impact of reduced auto production due to the Japan crisis probably hasn’t been fully felt. But here’s an ominous sign: Honda is set to report its worst May sales since 1997, Edmunds.com says. The final figures won’t be in until next week, but for Japanese automakers, they are going to be especially ugly because of production disruptions arising from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Like Honda, Toyota lost market share this month by a hefty 2.4 percentage points, Edmunds.com predicts. And the beneficiaries?: General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, plus the South Korean sister brands, Hyundai and Kia. In fact, Hyundai and Kia will probably come in with a 9.9% market share, placing the companies’ combined share fifth overall ahead of Honda and behind Chrysler. In a surprise, Nissan could show a sales gain. Biggest sales gainers among all brands remain small cars. “Even …

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Small cars are much safer than they used to be

  All the talk likening small cars to sardine cans can finally be retired. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released new crash-test results and ratings for more than a dozen small cars and found that, thankfully, automakers have made significant progress in small-car safety—and, that fuel economy and safety aren’t mutually exclusive. Of the 13 small cars that were recently evaluated by the Institute, six have achieved the Top Safety Pick award—signaling top results in all categories as well as available electronic stability control. Focus, Civic, Elantra join Cruze and Golf as top picks Among the latest vehicles to be rated were the all-new 2012 Ford Focus, the refreshed 2012 Honda Civic, the 2011 Hyundai Elantra, and the Nissan Juke—as well as the latest version of the Toyota Prius and the related Lexus CT 200h hybrid. All of these models achieve …

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New vehicle fuel economy labels for 2013 unveiled

  The U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today are unveiling new fuel economy labels that will help consumers take advantage of the increased efficiency standards achieved under the Obama Administration that will save families money at the pump starting this year. The new labels, which are the most dramatic overhaul to fuel economy labels since the program began more than 30 years ago, will provide more comprehensive fuel efficiency information, including estimated annual fuel costs, savings, as well as information on each vehicle’s environmental impact. The new labels underscore the benefits of the historic, bipartisan passenger car and truck fuel economy rule adopted under this administration by the EPA and DOT in 2010. These improvements will give consumers better, more complete information to consider when purchasing new vehicles that are covered by the increased fuel economy standards. Starting …

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Luxury car sales in China to rise 20 percent this year

  Liu Yirong walked into Porsche SE’s Shanghai dealership planning to buy the carmaker’s $137,000 Cayenne sport-utility vehicle. He left with a coffee-colored 911 Carrera sports car instead. “I wanted a Cayenne but there weren’t any available,” said the 32-year-old Liu, who works in the chemical industry. “They said I have to wait two years.” Chinese customers ordering a Cayenne with a 3.0-liter engine wait an average of 15 months for delivery, the longest for the vehicle globally. Porsche forecasts record 2011 deliveries globally as China sales grow 35 percent, putting the Asian nation on track to overtake the U.S. as its largest market in 2014, said Helmut Broeker, the automaker’s head of China. Porsche, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Daimler AG (DAI)’s Mercedes-Benz all posted four-month sales increases in China exceeding 30 percent as rising numbers of wealthy Chinese seek out German …

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New car sales to reach 16 million by 2013

  New-vehicle sales in the U.S. will rebound to 16 million by 2013 as consumers stop delaying purchases and lenders resume doing business with sub-prime borrowers, according to an annual study by A.T. Kearney, a consulting firm. Dan Cheng, leader of the Vienna, Va.-based consultant’s automotive practice, said new-vehicle sales this year will reach 13.2 million, about on track with other estimates throughout the industry. But parts shortages tied to the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan will keep U.S. sales of 200,000 vehicles below where they would have been without the disaster. It presents an opportunity for Ford, General Motors and Chrysler to reach consumers loyal to Toyota, Honda and Nissan for years. “We already see 328,000 U.S. customers up for grabs if the necessary parts do not become available,” Cheng said. The Kearney forecast is less optimistic than a …

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Mistakes to avoid when selling your used car

  If you don’t sabotage yourself, it’s a great time to be selling your used car. Prices for used cars, as measured by the Manheim Index, a gauge for wholesale used-car values, have been at or near all-time highs since the last quarter of 2010, and consumers are looking to cut costs by buying gently used cars over new ones. A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found 65 percent of respondents said they were more likely to consider a late-model used car than they were a few years ago. Still, it’s possible to bungle your way into a bad price for your used car. Looking at seller advertisements, you’d never know people were trying to sell one of their most valuable possessions. If private auto sellers could win prizes for grainiest photo or most imaginative price, the competition would be fierce. If you’d rather get top …

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