Official: Mazda reports strong Skyactiv sales, plans to boost output 25%

Filed under: Budget, China, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Technology, Mazda

Skyactiv Technology logo

Mazda is set to expand production of its Skyactiv engines after critical and commercial acclaim for the fuel-sipping powerplants. The Japanese manufacturer has a number of plans in the works to bump up production, with the first being a 25-percent increase in output from its Hiroshima, Japan engine facility.

Besides adding a new line, Mazda will modify the line that built MZR engines, a family of mills that includes the 2.3-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder found in the Mazdaspeed3 and the 2.0-liter found in the MX-5 Miata. The bump in production is just part of Mazda’s goal of selling 1.7 million vehicles globally by 2016, with 80 percent of those vehicles expected to wear a Skyactiv badge.

Mazda also builds Skyactiv engines at a joint-venture facility with Ford, in Changan, China, while a Mexican facility will go online by March of 2014. Skyactiv engines currently power the Mazda3, Mazda6 and CX-5.

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Mazda reports strong Skyactiv sales, plans to boost output 25% originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 27 Aug 2013 17:32:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Toyota reports huge quarterly profit increase, raises forecast for the year

Filed under: Toyota, Earnings/Financials

2014 Toyota Tundra Grille

Toyota isn’t just the world’s largest automaker – so far its the biggest winner for quarterly profits. With an enormous $5.5 billion take during Q2, Toyota took advantage of the weak Japanese yen and strong US demand to record a 94-percent improvement in profit over the same period from last year. So far, Toyota brought in larger profits than Ford and General Motors combined.

Toyota is showing no signs of slowing down either, as it has bumped up its forecast for full-year global production, going from 9.94 million to 10.12 million vehicles, on the back of a 13-percent drop in the buying power of the Japanese yen versus the US dollar. That strong exchange rate is largely responsible for Toyota’s big jump in profits, although it also managed to shift 1.3 million vehicles in the US market this year. Strong Camry sales have also helped. But while Toyota is raking in the cash, it actually saw a small drop in market share, down 0.1 percent to 14.3 percent of the US market.

As is the case with most automakers, Toyota seems flummoxed by Europe, where it recorded less than one percent of its revenue. Still, as Automotive News points out, Toyota only maintains a 4.5-percent market share in Europe and is far less dependent on the continent than other manufacturers. Toyota also struggled at home, much like Honda. With 525,777 units sold, JDM sales were down almost 51,000 units, although Toyota still saw its operating profit jump from $3.5 billion to $4.6 billion.

Scroll down for Toyota’s official press release.

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Toyota reports huge quarterly profit increase, raises forecast for the year originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 04 Aug 2013 15:19:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Ferrari reports fewer sales, more profit to prove strategy is working

Filed under: Earnings/Financials, Ferrari

Ferrari badge

Ferrari’s angle of emphasizing exclusivity by limiting deliveries is appearing to bear fruit. The company posted a 7.1-percent increase in revenues to 1.7 billion Euros ($2.2 billion at today’s exchange rates) during the first half of 2013. Net profits, meanwhile, saw a jump of 20 percent to 116.2 million Euros ($153.5 million). The Prancing Horse delivered 3,767 cars, which, while an increase of 2.8 percent, represents a rate of growth that’s slower than in the first quarter of 2013.

While Ferrari may be actively trying to slow its sales down to below 7,000 in 2013, it’s seen increased numbers in the US, Great Britain and Germany, along with double-digit growth in the Middle East and Japan (39 percent and 28 percent, respectively).

The move to limit sales should have a greater impact on the numbers that come in later this year, which we told you about back in May. Ferrari’s controversial move has already seen a drop in sales to China, which saw 50 fewer Prancing Horses than this time last year.

Still, the early stages of Ferrari’s new plans have been a success, as the Chairman said, “An increase of just over two percent in volumes has been matched by 20 percent growth in EBIT which is and will remain our primary objective along with maintaining the exclusivity and value of our cars over time.” We love seeing automakers do well, but somehow, the world just seems a sadder place with fewer Ferraris in it.

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Ferrari reports fewer sales, more profit to prove strategy is working originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 01 Aug 2013 19:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home

Filed under: Honda, Earnings/Financials

2013 Honda Civic badge

Ford, General Motors and Chrysler have been living in a world of sunshine and buttercups after their April-through-June financials hit the newswire, and Toyota is doing pretty good as well. Honda? Not so much.

While Japan’s third-largest manufacturer saw $1.9 billion in profits, the 5.1-percent jump was lower than expected thanks to a drop in its home-market sales. US sales also took a sting, as Honda hasn’t been able to match the SUV and truck demand that are currently permeating the American market, despite an uptick in Accord sales.

Honda’s initial forecasts targeted a take of 209.3 billion yen ($2.1 billion at today’s rates), and while a $200 million shortfall is nothing to sniff at, we’d hardly take this as Honda being in trouble. And even with the dip, Honda hasn’t adjusted its forecast for the fiscal year, which remains at 780 billion yen ($7.9 billion).

Still, the cause of the problem for Honda isn’t one that’s easily solvable. Accord sales were strong, helping the brand move 745,578 vehicles during the first half of 2013, which is a six-percent improvement in year-over-year sales. Yet, Honda’s market share shrunk by 0.1 percent, and the Japanese manufacturer’s lack of competitive SUVs and pickups is worrying. In the short term, though, the arrival of the new Acura MDX in North American dealerships should deliver a small shot in the arm.

Honda’s home-market issues are also troubling, with Reuters reporting a 24-percent drop in sales, thanks to the discontinuation of government subsidies. All told, this isn’t the rosy outlook we’ve gotten used to since the latest batch of earnings came out.

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Honda reports $1.9 billion profit in first quarter despite sales lag at home originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Chevy Impala goes from bottom to top of Consumer Reports sedan rankings

Filed under: Sedan, Chevrolet

It’s got a new design, it’s got new objectives, it’s got a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s a central part of what could be Chevrolet’s “strongest, most competitive retail sedan lineup ever,” and now the 2014 Chevrolet Impala has added Turnaround Artist to its resume, going from last to first in Consumer Reports‘ large sedan ratings.

As if it didn’t earn itself a couple of beers for that alone, the triumph is all the more noteworthy because the Impala is the first domestic sedan in 20 years to reach that position. CR only began rating cars with a score in 1992, and since then the number one slot has been from Japan 11 times, Europe nine times.

The Impala conquered with features like its “surprisingly agile handling,” “excellent braking,” “generally high-quality materials” and a technology interface that is “refreshingly intuitive and easy to use.” Going beyond its segment in worth, whereas the previous Impala scored a 63, this one scored a 95; only the BMW 135i coupe and Tesla Model S have scored higher. And wait until you get to the part where it’s considered “competitive with… the Audi A6 and Lexus LS460L….”

Yeah, you read that right. And you can read even more of it in the press release below.

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Chevy Impala goes from bottom to top of Consumer Reports sedan rankings originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 25 Jul 2013 06:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Official: Ram 1500 wins Consumer Reports fullsize truck test

Filed under: Car Buying, Truck, Work, Ram

Vehicles that perform well in road tests by some of the most popular automotive publications, such as Car and Driver, Motor Trend and Automobile, don’t always score well in in Consumer Reports’ more regimented, practical test procedures, so the Ram 1500’s climb to the top of CR‘s scoreboard is a boon for the well-received pickup truck, which CR also put on its “recommended” list.

To start off with, the freshened 2013 Ram 1500 has a lighter, stiffer chassis than before, and the four-wheel-drive Crew Cab that CR bought and tested performed flawlessly and achieved class-leading fuel economy (15 miles per gallon) with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 – the most popular engine choice for the 1500 – and the new eight-speed automatic transmission. The unique-in-its-class rear coil spring setup endowed the truck with “one of the best rides of any pickup,” CR reports. That helped it earn its class-leading road-test score of 78, well ahead of the nearest competition still in production, the Toyota Tundra (69) and the Ford F-150 (68). It’s worth noting, however, that the Chevrolet Avalanche outscores the 1500 by two points (80), but production of that vehicle ends after the current 2013 model year.

About the only things the publication could find wrong with the truck were a heavy tailgate and a high step up into the cabin. Get ready for the next round later this summer when CR is finished testing the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, which is doing well so far in the publication’s tests.

To see what we think of the 1500, head over to our First Drive review of the Ram 1500 SLT with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, and feel free to take a look at the Consumer Reports press release below.

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Ram 1500 wins Consumer Reports fullsize truck test originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 16 Jul 2013 06:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Report: Porsche denies KERS-equipped 911 reports

Filed under: Concept Cars, Coupe, Hybrid, Performance, Europe, Porsche, Rumormill

2013 Porsche 911

2013 Porsche 911 – Click above for high-res image gallery

Sources within Porsche told us that KERS would be available throughout the entire next-gen 911 range, but now, a Porsche executive calls it “nonsense.” While the automaker is developing ways to make electric range extenders work in some Porsche models, a hybrid 911 reportedly isn’t in the cards – for now.

When and if there’s a 911 hybrid, it will be a long way down the line and will likely employ a plug-in system rather than a KERS-style regenerative braking setup. The reason the 911 won’t get a hybrid drive anytime soon is pretty simple: Porsche has no interest in homogenizing its driving experience across the entire lineup.

Since electrics deliver all their power from zero rpm, they offer an extremely predictable power curve, and Porsche would rather each of its cars vary from its stablemates in power delivery and behavior. For now, it seems hybrid technology will be limited to the likes of the Panamera and Cayenne.

Porsche denies KERS-equipped 911 reports originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 30 May 2011 16:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Mid-engine Corvette C7 reports surface yet again

Filed under: Convertible, Coupe, Performance, Chevrolet, GM, Rumormill, Design/Style

Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Concept

Chevrolet 50th Anniversary Corvette Stingray Concept – Click above for high-res image gallery

Rumors of a mid-engine C7 Corvette simply refuse to die, despite a long string of denials that such a project is in the works from a number of General Motors executives. The latest such story comes all the way from the UK, as Autocar reports that statements from GM North America president Mark Reuss hint that the next ‘Vette may abandon its front engine for 2013.

As we’ve heard before, General Motors is also thought to be downsizing the engines used in the Corvette – possibly even switching from a V8 to a V6 – though tricks like turbocharging and direct injection would likely keep horsepower at supercar levels.

As far as styling goes, we have no idea what shape the 2013 Corvette may take. Autocar indicates the classic split-window design from the 1963 Corvette may make a comeback, and the interior, the design of which is being led by global design chief Ed Welburn himself, will be fully modern and “absolutely world class.”

In any case, we’re expecting big things for the Corvette C7, and we’re sure the ‘Vette’s German and Italian rivals are just as eager to find out the details as we are.

Mid-engine Corvette C7 reports surface yet again originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 11 May 2011 16:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Reports: Volvo denies talk of Saab takeover,
Muller looking for partner in China

Filed under: Europe, Saab, Volvo, Earnings/Financials

Saab logo detail

It looks like Volvo and Saab won’t be teaming up to create one Swedish carmaker to rule them all. According to Reuters, Volvo has made it clear that the company has had no talks with Saab about buying the besieged automaker and that none are scheduled to take place. The Swedish newspaper De Telegraf had previously reported that the Swedish government was urging Volvo into talks with Saab about a potential takeover. The move would mean that a government loan previously granted to Saab by the European Investment Bank would have a greater chance of being repaid.

Saab has hit (further) rough waters in recent months with multiple supplier hiccups resulting in production stoppages including instances of the automaker being unable to pay for parts. In addition, sales fell well short of 2010 forecasts, resulting in a further cash crunch. The Swedish automaker has since performed a few economic stunts to get production rolling again, including selling the company’s properties and re-leasing them at a lower cost.

In related matters, Automotive News reports that Saab CEO Victor Muller is looking to broker a deal with a Chinese automaker to help finance the company, although it is understood that Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. is not one of those parties. BAIC, you may recall, purchased old Saab assets (the previous generation 9-3 model, among other things) back in 2009 for $200 million, and it also expressed interest in buying Saab from General Motors before Muller’s Spyker stepped in and completed the purchase.

[Sources: Reuters, Automotive News]

Reports: Volvo denies talk of Saab takeover,
Muller looking for partner in China originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 22 Apr 2011 13:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Muller looking for partner in China”

Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #220 with Consumer Reports’ John Linkov

Filed under: Concept Cars, Geneva Motor Show, Etc., Ford, Jeep, Smart, Design/Style

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Click above to subscribe to The Autoblog Podcast in iTunes

We record Episode #220 of the Autoblog Podcast tonight, and we’ll be joined by John Linkov of Consumer Reports, as well. We’ll of course discuss the Annual Autos Issue, as well as the other topics below. Use the forum below to drop us your own feedback and questions or vote on your fellow readers’ submissions to help determine what else we discuss this evening. You can subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven’t already to hear your question answered.

Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #219

  • Report: Jeep to build subcompact by 2013?
  • Smart ForTwo Electric Drive to go on sale in early 2012
  • Report: Next-gen Ford Mustang will have global design input
  • 2011 Geneva Motor Show: The 76-Car Ultimate Wrap Up
  • Consumer Reports releases 2011 list of American Top Picks, Ford again on top
  • Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue

Subscribe to the Autoblog Podacast and hear your questions asked:
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Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #220 with Consumer Reports’ John Linkov originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 07 Mar 2011 17:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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