Posted by Dale Buss on November 25, 2013 01:47 PM
Hyundai continues to be practically unsurpassed at doing interesting things in the US car market. The latest is its vow to debut for retail customers a fuel-cell version of its Tucson SUV by next spring.
Interestingly, such a showing would leapfrog the plans of both Toyota and Honda to introduce a retail fuel-cell vehicle in the United States. And while the fuel-cell Tucson will be extremely limited as a Hyundai sales opportunity for at least the first few years, the move does indicate that Hyundai wants to go hard and establish an unassailable foothold in fuel-cell technology as Toyota did over a decade ago with Prius to gain early dominance of the hybrid segment.
"Today, right here, the hydrogen fuel cell is making a shift from a research project to a real consumer choice," John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said at the unveiling of the fuel-cell Tucscon at the Los Angeles Auto Show, according to Automotive News.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 11, 2013 05:46 PM
Volkswagen has been pounding the drum for clean-diesel power so vigorously for a while that it's an interesting change-up these days when company and brand executives are promoting other green technologies.
So while Volkswagen of America executives have been pushing the company's clean-diesel TDI versions in comments to the automotive press and lobbying in Washington, D.C., among other places, it's been a somewhat different story at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. About half the cars bought by Europeans are diesel-powered, of course, so the technology isn't very new to them.
But the idea of investing more heavily in electric and hybrid vehicles is only now catching on with Volkswagen and its German automotive rivals. And VW CEO Martin Winterkorn gave EVs and hybrids the company's biggest rhetorical backing ever at the show, promising that 14 models from several VW Group brands will be offered worldwide as EVs or some form of hybrid by 2014, according to the Detroit News.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 29, 2013 06:22 PM
Toyota plans to keep pressing the advantages of its renewed mojo in the US market with sportier hybrids, a greater emphasis on customer care and the possible addition of more production in Mexico to supply American customers.
The company has seen its market share in the US slip from a peak of 17 percent in 2009 to around 14 percent this year through July, as it was afflicted by natural disasters, its safety-recall fiasco, and intensified competition that took advantage of Toyota's weakness.
"Of course many customers still believe in Toyota, but some don't trust us," said Kazuo Ohara, CEO of Toyota's US Sales arm, according to Automotive News. "To recover our reputation, we should get back to basics.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 2, 2013 06:32 PM
Toyota finally has some serious competition for the American hybrid-car buyer. Ford has committed to the segment like no second brand has ever done before, and is making up huge ground with its C-Max and Ford Fusion hybrids.
But Toyota remains king of the battery mountain with its Prius brand. The company reported an overall increase in hybrid sales in June of 19 percent over last year, with sales of the Prius family of vehicles specifically rising by 10 percent, to more than 21,000 units for the month. Year-to-date, Prius sales are more than 120,000 units, and after the first half of the year, Toyota continues to account for more than half of all alternative-fuel vehicles sold in the US market.
"We're right on track to hit our target for the year," Bill Fay, Toyota Division Group Vice President and General Manager, told automotive journalists on Tuesday.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 12, 2013 01:51 PM
No industry is in the environmental spotlight like autos. It transformed the globe and remains the most impactful on the planet and on humanity.
That's why it's especially encouraging to see car companies stepping up around the world to the sustainability challenge, certainly in how they're approaching the environmental impact of their vehicles but also in a myriad other ways including engineering and design, manufacturing practices, future-product planning and even marketing.
In fact, auto makers hold four of the top five spots in Interbrand's Best Global Green Brands 2013 report: No. 1 Toyota, No. 2 Ford, No. 3 Honda, and No. 5 Nissan.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 5, 2013 04:27 PM
Prius sales ticked up in May for the best month in a year for Toyota's hybrid family, but the good news on the Prius front didn't last long: The company just announced a recall of about 87,000 model-year 2010 Prius and Lexus HS 250h hybrids.
But unlike Toyota's difficulties three years ago with the massive recall of its vehicles because of concerns about unintended acceleration, which trashed the brand for a time, the company seems to be on top of the latest action: Toyota said that it has had no reports of accidents or injuries associated with a brake-pressure accumulator that may develop a fatigue crack on an internal part due to vibration.
Good thing. Toyota seems to be getting the Prius franchise back on track these days. Franchise sales for the year to date through April were down by 12 percent and not on pace for the company's full-year target of 250,000 units, even though Prius is now available in several variants from original to compact to enlarged to a plug-in hybrid version.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 28, 2013 05:29 PM
The stagnation of the U.S. market for all-electric vehicles has automakers thinking more creatively about how to address American consumers' desire for maximum fuel economy without attempting fruitlessly to guilt them into buying EVs.
The evidence of this trend has been abundant this week during the media previews at the New York International Auto Show, and news that the Obama administration is planning to get tougher on car emission standards, with "sweeping rules" expected from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring cleaner gasoline and cars.
"I think green has gone mainstream" as automakers employ fuel-efficient technologies across their lineups, not just in electrified vehicles, Consumer Reports director of auto testing Jake Fisher told WWJ-TV in Detroit. "It doesn't matter what you get, you can get green in your car, whether or not it's a sports car or an SUV."
That's why, for example, Dodge is able to claim that the new 8-speed transmission in its 2014 Durango SUV qualifies as a "green" advance: It helps boost fuel economy of the nameplate by close to 10 percent, Reid Bigland, Dodge brand CEO, told the TV station.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 1, 2013 10:16 AM
Kate Ochsman is exactly the kind of customer that Ford is seeking for the C-Max hybrid in California: "Young, artsy, indie, environmentally conscious," as the 26-year-old actress and overall creative talent puts it.
So after the Los Angeles-based Ochsman bought a new C-Max last fall and suggested to the dealer that she would be available to appear in ads for it, Ford took her up on the suggestion. Now "Kate Bowen"—stage name—just began appearing in a Ford dealers' TV ad in the state and also has been the star of a radio spot. Ford also plans to bring out more national TV ads soon using the same "La Linea" creative theme that made its initial TV ad for C-Max last fall—directly challenging the Toyota Prius hybrid line—so popular.
Ochsman bought a C-Max Hybrid, the main member of Ford's new all-electrified-vehicle sub-brand, for exactly the reasons Ford would suspect. "I liked the way it handled" on a test drive "and the space inside," Ochsman told brandchannel. "I have a dog and I do lots of traveling and outdoors stuff."
When she decided she needed to replace her 2002 BMW X-5, Ochsman looked at a Toyota Prius—the specified comparison-sales target of the C-Max—and found it "not very comfortable or esthetically pleasing," she said. She went to a Ford dealership because her first ride had been her father's Ford Escape; but the Fusion sedan was "way too big," while the Ford Focus "seemed a little too cheap." Continue reading...