March was the 5th straight month of a SAAR above 15 million vehicles. Industry analysts have explained the strength of the market in a number of ways. The need to replace older vehicles is one (new car sales were hit hard during the recession as consumers held on to their vehicles for longer. This also caused used car prices to skyrocket, something TTAC has been documenting), while others have cited increasing fleet demand, and the desire to replace vehicles damaged in Hurricane Sandy.But one factor that is just starting to get attention outside of TTAC is sub-prime financing. Sub-prime lending, which involves giving high-interest loans to customers with poor credit scores, is driving the SAAR in a big way, by letting buyers with poor credit purchase new cars. In turn, the sub-prime bubble is being driven by Wall Street, whose clients cannot get enough of financial instruments backed by sub-prime auto loans.On the surface, it seems unbelievable. Unemployment is currently at … [Read more...] about How A New Generation Of Sub-Prime Auto Financing Could Cause Another Catastrophe
For a new generation
It probably reads like a foregone conclusion, this announcement that Nissan will redesign the Juke for a second generation—nearly 40,000 of them were sold each of the last two years in the U.S.—but the news holds more than word of a new froggy Nissan. The next Juke will be the first vehicle to ride on a new Renault-Nissan shared platform dubbed “CMF-B,” which stands for Common Module Family, uh, B. (The “B” likely refers to the Juke’s B-segment sizing.) We know at least some of these new Jukes will be built in the U.K., although it isn’t yet clear whether next-gen Jukes sold stateside will be sourced from there or Japan. We’ve reached out to Nissan’s U.S. reps, and will update this post once they respond.According to the U.K. release, the CMF-B connection will give the Juke “an engineering architecture that drives synergies in all major areas, from purchasing to vehicle engineering and powertrains.” … [Read more...] about Frogger 2: Jukey’s Revenge (Or: A Second-Generation Nissan Juke Is Confirmed)
The current automotive climate is not a favourable one for full-size sedans, luxury or otherwise.Many automakers have persevered, reinvesting in their flagship sedans despite decreased demand. BMW, for instance, suffered a 29-percent loss in U.S. 7 Series demand over the last decade, yet the company introduced two new generations of 7 Series during that period.Lexus, however, has allowed the LS to wallow in a pool of its own misery. The car that started it all for Lexus was once a conservative, value priced, marketplace leader in the full-size sector; a car that could beat the overpriced Germans at their own game. Now, the decade-old fourth-generation Lexus LS has all but disappeared from the public consciousness. Sales have fallen 73 percent since 2006.Toyota has finally determined that it’s time for a new Lexus LS. In fact, it’s been time for a new Lexus LS for quite a while.Lexus last led the category in sales in 2009, ending a streak of three years in which the LS … [Read more...] about It’s About Time – Lexus Will Show A New LS Flagship AT NAIAS In 2017
Elon Musk isn’t waiting for someone else to figure out how to build a better battery. While lithium-ion technology remains expensive and somewhat fraught with technical issues, the headstrong Tesla CEO has a plan that should at least make batteries cheaper. Many also think it’s his bid to establish the battery as the dominant alt-fuel technology.Musk wants to cut the price of a Tesla battery pack by more than 30 percent by building a 10-million-square-foot Nevada factory that condenses the company’s current ocean-spanning supply chain onto a single property. His proposed “Gigafactory” would make batteries from start to finish, beginning with raw materials and ending with battery-pack assembly.Unlike Henry Ford’s revolutionary vertical integration in the 1900s, Musk won’t own the entire Gigafactory operation. Part of his plan is convincing established industrial giants to carry some of the $5 billion financial burden. Panasonic, … [Read more...] about Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s Next Big Disruption Isn’t a New Car, It’s a New Battery
The lifespan of an average car-model usually lasts a half-decade before the automaker shells out for a full redesign, unless it’s a Nissan Frontier or Lincoln Navigator. That’s more or less the rule at Honda when it comes to the top-selling compact car in North America, the Civic.While the eighth-generation Civic soldiered on for a lengthy six years, Honda sold the preceding seventh, sixth, fifth, and fourth versions of the model for either four or five years. Thanks to a boring design and lackluster reviews, the automaker spirited the ninth-gen model off of dealer lots after just four years, but not before adding extra content and style via an emergency 2013 model year refresh.We’re now hearing the current generation — larger than ever before, radically redesigned for 2016, and a sales leader in a shrinking segment — won’t see a full redesign until the 2022 model year. That’s a six-year stretch. A stretch where automakers will be … [Read more...] about Will Buyers Wait Until 2022 for a Next-generation Honda Civic?
If American dealers get their way, Lexus’ planned subcompact crossover — first shown in concept form last year — won’t be the strictly Europe-focused proposition the brand’s parent company intended.The UX concept, introduced at the 2016 Paris Auto Show, shares its architecture with the Toyota C-HR and is already scheduled for production. We’ll see the model debut in Geneva next March. Lexus Europe is positioning the model as a new entry point for the brand’s utility lineup, designed to appeal to urbanites used to navigating tight spaces.But European city-dwellers aren’t the only ones who took notice of the UX concept. Dealers in the U.S. are clamoring for a chance to bulk up their growing lineup with something small. It’s something Lexus is now considering.“Our dealers are all over us to produce that concept vehicle,” said Jeff Bracken, general manager of Toyota Motor Sales USA’s Lexus division, in … [Read more...] about U.S. Dealers Plead for a Smaller Lexus Crossover
The manual transmission might be on its last legs, but you’d never know it by browsing through Subaru WRX equipment lists. A six-speed manual comes standard on all five trim levels, helping make the all-wheel-drive compact a perennial favorite among driving enthusiasts of reasonably modest means.For 2018, the WRX and WRX STI offers more standard equipment and a face that’s cleaner — and ever so slightly meaner — than before, though one feature seems notably absent. That, of course, would be the stiffer global platform found under the new Impreza. Oh, and add “extra horsepower” to that list.As Subaru fanboys wait for a next-generation model, at least the updated version won’t cost them much more.The entry-level 2018 WRX adds $300 to its MSRP, nudging its after-delivery price to $27,885. A turbocharged 2.0-liter Boxer four-cylinder provides the motivation for lower-rung models, making the same 268 horsepower as before. Premium trim sees … [Read more...] about Subaru Keeps 2018 WRX Pricing Sane as It Waits for a New Platform
Jaguar’s design chief just broke the hearts of that tiny, tiny group of enthusiasts who were holding out for a new Jaguar wagon.Ian Callum threw an ice cold pot of tea onto speculation that the British automaker would offer a wagon version of one of its new sedans, telling a group of auto journos in London that they were done with estate cars, Automotive News Europe has reported.The reason for this has a lot to do with why Callum and the journalists were in the same room. The event concerned the 2017 Jaguar F-Pace, the automaker’s first crossover SUV.Only British drivers want a British wagon, and that’s not a big market, explained Callum. The U.S. and China aren’t interested in them, either.“The world’s biggest wagon market is Germany,” he said to the crowd. “And what do Germans buy? They buy German cars.”The last wagon Jaguar produced was a version of the previous-generation XF. Before that, it was a version of the lowly … [Read more...] about Hoping for a Jaguar Wagon? Dream On, Says Ian Callum
No matter who you are or what status you hold in society, at some point in the past 34 years you did something in a Chevrolet Cavalier, and it was probably a lackluster experience (barring anything in the backseat, though even then…).For reasons unknown, the nameplate that once summed up everything that was wrong with domestic compacts will return to the automotive landscape on a China-only Chevrolet model, GMInsideNews reports.The name will return on a compact model built by SAIC General Motors Corporation, hopefully without the peeling paint, tinny body panels and bargain basement plastic that graced its American-market predecessor.Slotted between the Cruze and subcompact Sonic in terms of size, the new compact adopts plenty of Cruze styling up front but not much in the rear, if photos leaked to the Chinese media are accurate.GMInsideNews notes that the Cavalier shares an identical wheelbase to the Daewoo Lacetti, which underpins the Chinese market Buick Excelle. Their … [Read more...] about China Resurrects a Great Nameplate for a New Chevy: ‘Cavalier’
The departed Toyota FJ Cruiser was a vehicle of contrasts, depending on who you talked to. Too big, or not big enough. Too refined, or too often used as a grocery getter. Too retro, or not retro enough.An homage to its long-dead predecessor, the retro SUV defined “niche vehicle,” and it sold like one too. Not in huge numbers, but in consistent ones. When Toyota phased it out of the North American market after 2014, it left a vacuum that went unnoticed by most.Is Toyota now planning to fill that void?According to AutoGuide, the automaker has filed a trademark application for the “FT-4X” name, signifying a “future Toyota.”Dated October 10, the filing stirs hope in FJ Cruiser fans that Toyota plans to return with a new model that’s a little edgier than its current crossover and SUV lineup. Unless something’s changed in the automotive lexicon, “4X” implies a four-wheel-drive model with a penchant for offroading.Toyota keeps its … [Read more...] about Is Toyota’s FT-4X an FJ Cruiser for a New Generation?