Study: US diesel model count to double for 2014?

Filed under: Car Buying, Audi, Diesel

Audi's 2014 TDI diesel product line

While diesel cars are popular on most other continents, these less-complex alternative to hybrid-electric vehicles have yet to gain major traction in the US. As an increasing number of light cars and trucks start to offer these fuel-efficient engines, though, sales are expected to climb as well. While BMW, Mercedes-Benz and the Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche) continue to lead the way, more non-German automakers like Mazda, Nissan, Chrysler and General Motors are starting to get serious about diesel in America.

TheDetroitBureau.com reports that the 2014 model year will see the number of diesel vehicles offered in the US double to about 40 nameplates, but the news gets even better for fans of these torquey and efficient powerplants. LMC Automotive has released data about future expectations of diesel cars in the US, and it predicts that sales should be very close to one million units in 2015 (up from an expected 600,000 units this year). By 2018, LMC’s calculations suggest that sales will more than double from this year’s expected totals accounting for almost 8 percent of new light-vehicle sales.

US diesel model count to double for 2014? originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 23 Aug 2013 16:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: Learn how Hot Wheels built a life-sized Double Loop

Filed under: Motorsports, Technology, Videos, Racing

Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare documentary screencap

At the 2012 X-Games, Hot Wheels attempted a death-defying, double loop. Unlike when you were a kid and actively trying to destroy your toy cars, though, this was a life-size attempt, with real drivers behind the wheel. The massive stunt, with two 66-foot-tall loops, was completed by Tanner Foust and Greg Tracy, and now there’s a short YouTube documentary on the process involved in setting up the stunt.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but there were crashes in practice. Hot Wheels rigged up a poor Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback with a remote-control system as a practice vehicle, which eventually pancaked itself into the track midway through its run. The full-size RC car showed the lengths that the team went to get this stunt right, while making it as safe as possible for the two drivers.

You can check out the complete documentary below, along with the live lap from the 2012 X-Games in Los Angeles.

Continue reading Learn how Hot Wheels built a life-sized Double Loop

Learn how Hot Wheels built a life-sized Double Loop originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Aug 2013 19:58:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Lincoln poised to double MKZ Hybrid production

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Plants/Manufacturing, Lincoln

2014 Lincoln MKZ - front three-quarter view, maroon

The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has been something of a hit for Ford since the beginning, exceeding the company’s modest projected 15-percent take rate for more than two years (we say “modest” because that still means an overwhelming majority of Lincoln customers are passing up on the gas-electric powertrain even though it costs the same as the standard model). Either way, Lincoln builds 700 MKZ Hybrids at its plant in Mexico each month, but has sold 715 of them in each of the past three months. That’s why, according to a report in The Detroit News, when the restyled 2014 MKZ Hybrid arrives (non-hybrid pictured), Ford is doubling production compared to 2013. Instead of the hybrid model being 20 percent of production, the new hybrid will make up 40 percent.

Ford is doing well with hybrids in general – its portion of the electrified vehicle segment jumping 12 points in a single year to 16 percent. Assuming Ford doesn’t change the pricing strategy (along with the changes Ford is making to calibration to improve fuel economy), the sedan could continue to “[show] other luxury hybrids how it’s done” when it goes on sale later this year.

Lincoln poised to double MKZ Hybrid production originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 18 Jul 2013 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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April 2011 – Double-Digit Edition

April Showers Bring Double-Digit Sales Increases

Lincoln, Lexus, Infiniti and Chrysler are the only nameplates that failed to boast improved sales in April of 2011 when compared to the same period one year ago. Besides those Debbie Downers, things are looking pretty darn good for automakers in the United States.

We’re awfully curious to see what the impending summer selling seasons will have in store for Japanese automakers as they continue to claw back production lost due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the country just weeks ago, but for now, it seems no shortages have yet to significantly impact any sales figures.

Breaking individual model sales out a bit yields some interesting results. For instance, the Chevrolet Cruze, with 25,160 sales, outsold the Toyota Corolla (24,215) but fell about a thousand units shy of the class-leading Honda Civic (26,777).

The Ford brand also outsold Chevrolet, for those interested in that age-old American bragging right, but perhaps more interesting is the stunning success at Buick. With 18,413 total sales, Buick managed to outsell Lexus (again) and is knocking hard on the doors of such luxury stalwarts as BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

There were a number of heavily redesigned models that boasted huge gains over their predecessors, such as the Volkswagen Jetta (16,955 total sales, a 74-percent increase) and the Jeep Compass (4,050) and Grand Cherokee (9,802), which each outsold their 2010 counterparts by over 180 percent.

In all, the top 19 performers each posted double-digit sales gains in April of 2011. Impressive performances, to be sure. Check out all the numbers in our handy-dandy chart below.

*UPDATE: Added Mazda and Mitsubishi to chart.

Brand/Company Vol. % Apr-11 Apr-10 DSR %* Apr-11 Apr-10
Saab 223.72 696 215 211.73 26 8
Mitsubishi 105.52 8,081 3,932 97.91 299 151
Porsche 81.57 3,172 1,747 74.84 117 67
Mini 67.73 6,446 3,843 61.52 239 148
Jeep 64.85 32,384 19,645 58.74 1,199 756
Scion 59.63 5,710 3,577 53.72 211 138
Kia 56.73 47,074 30,036 50.92 1,743 1,155
Buick 51.16 18,413 12,181 45.56 682 469
Volvo 40.87 6,404 4,546 35.65 237 175
Hyundai 40.28 61,754 44,023 35.08 2,287 1,693
Jaguar 39.40 1,249 896 34.23 46 34
Ram 29.46 19,260 14,877 24.67 713 572
GMC 28.81 31,204 24,224 24.04 1,156 932
Chevrolet 25.43 169,794 135,369 20.78 6,289 5,207
Ford 24.53 182,542 146,589 19.91 6,761 5,638
Volkswagen 23.37 28,542 23,135 18.80 1,057 890
Cadillac 15.99 13,127 11,317 11.70 486 435
Nissan 14.51 64,765 56,558 10.27 2,399 2,175
Dodge 14.24 44,320 38,795 10.01 1,641 1,492
Honda 9.92 113,195 102,978 5.85 4,192 3,961
Suzuki 9.33 2,132 1,950 5.28 79 75
Mazda 8.99 20,638 18,935 4.96 764 728
BMW 8.88 18,801 17,268 4.85 696 664
Mercedes-Benz 8.67 19,157 17,628 4.65 710 678
Land Rover 8.48 2,982 2,749 4.46 110 106
Acura 8.26 11,604 10,719 4.25 430 412
Audi 7.50 10,018 9,319 3.52 371 358
Subaru 6.74 24,762 23,198 2.79 917 892
Toyota 2.07 141,964 139,080 -1.71 5,258 5,349
Lincoln -0.59 7,236 7,279 -4.27 268 280
Lexus -4.26 17,576 18,359 -7.81 651 706
Infiniti -6.24 6,761 7,211 -9.71 250 277
Chrysler -8.97 20,379 22,386 -12.34 755 861
Fiat NA 882 0 NA 33 0
COMPANIES
GM 27.01 232,538 183,091 22.30 8,613 7,042
Chrysler Group 22.49 117,225 95,703 17.95 4,342 3,681
BMW Group 19.59 25,247 21,111 15.16 935 812
Ford Mo Co 16.43 189,778 162,996 12.12 7,029 6,269
Jaguar Land Rover NA 16.08 4,231 3,645 11.78 157 140
Nissan NA 12.16 71,526 63,769 8.01 2,649 2,453
American Honda 9.76 124,799 113,697 5.70 4,622 4,373
Toyota Mo Co 1.33 159,540 157,439 -2.42 5,909 6,055

*Brands and companies are displayed in descending order according to their percentage change in volume sales. There were 27 selling days in March 2011 versus 26 selling days in March 2010, so the change in monthly sales volume will be different than the change in average daily sales rate (DSR) for each brand/company. Also, brands are combined and reported as companies only if their sales figures are released jointly.

April 2011 – Double-Digit Edition originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 03 May 2011 17:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Tata to double Nano production amidst sales uptick

Filed under: Budget, Plants/Manufacturing, Earnings/Financials, Tata

2011 Tata Nano CX

2011 Tata Nano CX – Click above for high-res image gallery

The Tata Nano has enjoyed an increase in sales in the last couple of months, reportedly sparking Tata Motors to double production of its budget-minded microcar this fiscal year. In March, the Indian automaker moved 8,707 examples, pulling to within spitting distance of its 9,000-unit sales record for July, 2010.

After a summer selling record numbers, the Nano’s sales plummeted to just 589 in November, following numerous reports that alleged that the cars were mysteriously bursting into flames. After the mysterious fires, Tata offered free extended warranties on the cars, up to 90 percent financing on easy terms, and a comprehensive maintenance plan at just 99 rupees a month (about $2.25 U.S.).

The incentives seem to have struck a chord with buyers, and the Nano is right back where it was a year ago. Currently, Tata is building 9,000-10,000 cars a month at its Sanand, India plant, and had planned to increase that rate to 15,000 this fiscal year. In light of the sales spike, though, that number was bumped to 18,000 to 20,000 units a month.

Gallery: 2011 Tata Nano CX: Quick Spin

Photos copyright (C)2011 Rex Roy / AOL

[Source: The Hindu Business Line]

Report: Tata to double Nano production amidst sales uptick originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 08 Apr 2011 14:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: GM to double Chevy Volt production capacity in 2012

Filed under: Hybrid, Sedan, Plants/Manufacturing, Chevrolet, GM

2011 Chevrolet Volt

2011 Chevrolet Volt – Click above for high-res image gallery

With fuel prices anticipated to rise, General Motors anticipates increased demand for the Chevrolet Volt. To stay ahead of the game, the automaker reportedly plans to double production capacity for the plug-in hybrid.

Production was originally pegged at 10,000 this year and 60,000 next year, but if the increased capacity comes to pass, those figures could increase to 25,000 this year and 120,000 units next year. This strategy depends on parts availability, however, and if the outsourced parts necessary to build more Volts can’t be ramped up by OEM suppliers, the plans could be cut short.

As has been reported, in addition to the Volt itself, GM is evaluating possibilities to apply the car’s gasoline-electric drivetrain to a range of additional products across different GM brands.

Gallery: 2011 Chevrolet Volt: First Drive

2011 Chevrolet Volt2011 Chevrolet Volt2011 Chevrolet Volt

Photos copyright (C)2011 Chris Paukert / AOL

[Source: Bloomberg]

Report: GM to double Chevy Volt production capacity in 2012 originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 23 Jan 2011 10:07:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Audi, Mercedes to double-down on diesels

Filed under: Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Diesel

Audi A3 TDI engine

Diesels have a tough stigma to overcome. Conventional wisdom – or just preconceived notions – characterize diesel engines as loud, slow and dirty. But even without the subsidies the fuel enjoys in Europe, diesels are starting to make an impact in the U.S. market.

Mercedes-Benz recently rolled the fifth of eight diesel models total planned over the next few years. Meanwhile Audi – based on the success of the A3 TDI (accounting for 53% of A3s sold in the U.S.) and the Q7 TDI (43%) – is planning to launch oil-burning versions of the A6 and A8 in the United States as well.

The difference comes down to improving technology (in the form of more advanced particulate filters that keep the exhaust cleaner) and increased availability of the fuel at the pump: studies found that, in 2007, 52% of gas stations in the United States were offering diesel, compared to 35% a decade earlier. Although Mercedes says it does not see the need to subsidize the purchase of diesel models, BMW – a relative newcomer to the diesel game on these shores – offers big incentives to offset the higher purchase costs of diesel models.

Rapidly advancing sales of diesel cars in the United States could, according to Bloomberg, stand to overshadow those of hybrids, whose sales have been slightly dwindling of late.

Photo copyright (C)2010 Drew Phillips / AOL
[Source: Bloomberg]

Report: Audi, Mercedes to double-down on diesels originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 11 Jan 2011 17:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Video: China’s crazy double-decker side-by-side car transporter

Filed under: China, Etc., Videos

Chinese automotive transport double-decker dual-car loader

Side-by-side double-decker car transporter – Click above to watch video after the jump

Need to carry multiple cars across a long distance in one shot? What if the amount of cars you want to carry exceeds the capacity for your standard automotive transport truck? China apparently has a solution, and it comes in the form of a dual-deck transporter, which is capable of carrying cars side-by-side on its upper load level.

This unconventional piece of heavy machinery was caught on film and it appears almost majestic in the way it rumbles down the road, but we’re quite sure we don’t want to be driving around it when it takes a corner with an excess of speed. Hop the jump to watch a short clip of this beast in action.

[Source: YouTube]

Continue reading Video: China’s crazy double-decker side-by-side car transporter

Video: China’s crazy double-decker side-by-side car transporter originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 01 Jan 2011 20:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: GM studying how to double or triple Chevy Volt production

Filed under: Hybrid, Plants/Manufacturing, Hatchback, Chevrolet, GM, Electric

Early Volts reportedly cost $40,000 to build

Chevrolet Volt battery pack – Click above for high-res image gallery

How’s your math? If you have 240,000 “potential buyers” but only 10,000 vehicles to sell them in the first year, what can you do? If you’re General Motos and the item in question is the Chevrolet Volt, then you look for ways to seriously increase the number of Volts you can build (and, of course, sell).

That’s exactly what CEO Dan Akerson says his company is trying to do, looking to double or triple production rates of this very important car. The problem, according to GM North America President Mark Reuss, is the bottleneck created by the limited number of battery cells that vendor LG Chem can produce for GM. The current plan is to make around 10,000 in 2011 and 45,000 in 2012. That 2012 number has already been increased from 30,000.

Upping the production numbers is good for GM for another reason. According to Steven Rattner, who was President Obama’s former auto bailout chief and worked intimately with GM, “At least in the early years, each Volt would cost around $40,000 to manufacture (development costs not included).” GM won’t confirm this number, but increased production will get the company, presumably, better economies of scale and thus lower production costs.

Gallery: 2011 Chevrolet Volt battery pack

[Sources: The New York Times, Automotive News – sub. req.]

Report: GM studying how to double or triple Chevy Volt production originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 01 Dec 2010 14:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Ford Explorer orders nearly double expectations

Filed under: Car Buying, Crossover, Ford

2011 Ford Explorer

2011 Ford Explorer – Click above for high-res image gallery

The 2011 Ford Explorer is a drastic departure from its predecessors, ditching body-on-frame construction in favor of a unibody structure, and sharing its platform with the Taurus sedan (as well as the Flex, Lincoln MKS and MKT). This shift to a traditional crossover construction has not turned away buyers, however, and Ford reports that Explorer pre-orders have nearly doubled original projections.

According to The Detroit News, Ford has received roughly 15,000 orders for the 2011 Explorer. This includes about 3,000 retail and 7,500 dealer orders, as well as an additional 4,500 orders from companies.

Jason Mase, Ford’s manager of utility vehicles, told The Detroit News that about 55 percent of buyers are opting for the trailer tow package, and 64 percent want all-wheel drive. Mase says that consumers don’t really care if the vehicle is a crossover or an SUV, the major concern is that the vehicle fits their specific needs. So far, so good, and Ford expects this trend to continue after the Explorer officially hits dealerships in early 2011.

Gallery: 2011 Ford Explorer Southern California Live Debut

Photos copyright (C)2010 Drew Phillips / AOL

[Source: The Detroit News]

Report: Ford Explorer orders nearly double expectations originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 28 Nov 2010 09:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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