Auto blogWed, 21 Nov 2012 10:01:00 EST
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.
Following the Tsunami, Japanese automakers ramped up production in their North American facilities to compensate, but according to Automotive News, Nissan, Honda and others have all reported plans for still-further increased production in the year ahead. As part of this ramp-up, Mazda will open a facility in Salamnca, Mexico before March of 2014. Part of that increase in output is 50,000 units of a Toyota-badged compact car, which Mazda will produce.
Other Mexican production facilities opening include a Honda plant, which will open in Spring 2014 in Celaya, and a Nissan plant, set to open later this year in Aguascalientes. Nissan also said that it will need another plant in North America within the next five years. According to Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn, the company aims to raise its stake in the US market from 8 percent to 10, and adding production will help achieve that goal. Even Mitsubishi is aiming to boost production at its Normal, Illinois plant. Production of the Outlander Sport is currently at 50,000, which Mitsubishi wants to raise to 70,000.
Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic storm in US history, and its total economic impact is just now coming into view. According to Automotive News, Toyota, Chrysler, Nissan and Honda are set to scrap around 15,000 new vehicles ruined by the storm. Nissan alone accounts for about 40 percent of those, with 6,000 Nissan and Infiniti models deeded "un-saleable" due to damage. The company saw 56 dealerships shuttered due to the storm, but 51 of those have since reopened.
Toyota, meanwhile, had some 4,000 vehicles at its Newark port facility, and of those, 3,000 may be scrapped. An additional 825 were dealer inventory when they were ruined. Honda and Acura dealers are reportedly sending 3,440 vehicles to the salvage yard. By comparison, Chrysler weathered the storm fairly well with 825 units destroyed, while Hyundai suffered only 400 lost units and Kia scrapped around 200.
As you may recall, Fisker also suffered some losses, and Automotive News reports the manufacturer saw 320 Karma models damaged beyond repair. Ford and General Motors have yet to come up with estimates, and no automaker has commented on the full cost of replacing the vehicles.
Ford tumbles to second worst in Consumer Reports reliability survey, list dominated by Japanese [w/video]Mon, 29 Oct 2012 15:59:00 EST
It's no secret that MyFord Touch has had its share of problems since being introduced, but the most recent reliability survey from Consumer Reports shows just how much this infotainment system has affected Ford. Just two years ago, the automaker was in the top 10 for the institute's reliability rankings, but since then, it has tumbled to the second-lowest rung just above dead-last Jaguar. In addition to MyFord Touch, CR also attributes a handful of new products that have had issues right out of the gate.
Compiled from 1.2 million subscriber surveys, this year's auto reliability survey heavily favors Japanese automakers, with eight of the 10 spots hailing from Japan. Toyota brands grabbed the top three spots (Scion, Toyota and Lexus - in that order) with Mazda, Subaru, Honda and Acura filling the next four spots. The only non-Asian automaker cracking the top 10 was Audi at number eight.
Audi climbed a total of 18 spots from last year, and Cadillac and GMC round out this year's top gainers breaking into the top 15. Helping Cadillac's upward movement, the CTS Coupe was named the most reliable domestic car. Lincoln, Volvo and Chrysler join Ford on this year's biggest loser list.
Auto Express is reporting that Honda is set to unveil the production version of its upcoming Acura NSX at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. The news comes courtesy of an unnamed "top exec" for Honda Brazil speaking at the Sao Paulo Motor Show. The concept version of the Japanese supercar is currently on display there. Interestingly enough, the same unnamed source claims the production iteration will remain aesthetically identical to the show car. You won't hear any qualms from us on that front.
Of course, the timing of the production debut is a little confusing. For starters, when Acura unveiled the concept last year, the company told the world it would be at least three years before production began. That would give the street-worthy model a 2014 or 2015 designation, the latter being cited more often in media accounts. Thus, we'll keep an eye out for the hybrid supercar in Motown, but we're going to stop short of holding our breath... it might be a while.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is evidently keeping itself very busy these days, as the federal agency has just announced it is launching or renewing investigations into Toyota, Honda and General Motors crossovers.
2006-2008 model year Toyota RAV4 crossovers are under review for allegations of rear tie-rod rust which can result in failure. NHTSA also said it is probing some 35 complaints about 2005 Honda Pilot models with inappropriate activation of the vehicles' stability control system. The alleged malfunction can cause the vehicles to slow down or stop in bad unsafe situations. At the moment, NHTSA is reviewing a petition regarding the Pilot issue, a move that will determine whether it needs to open a full-blown investigation.
In addition, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia three-row crossovers built in 2007-2009 are getting looked at for "loss of low beam headlamp" function. One complainant said the wiring in his Outlook overheated and melted. NHTSA says it has received 415 complaints about the problem and a GM spokesman confirmed that the automaker already started a "Customer Satisfaction Program" in December to address the issue.
Honda's Commercial of the Decade: "Grrr" - Click above to watch video
The mad men at Adweek recently voted for the Commercial of the Decade (Super Bowl commercials not included) and Honda took top honors over memorable ads from the last ten years by companies like Nike, Budweiser and Sony. That's not a big surprise considering Honda often puts a huge amount of effort into its on-air spots. However, the Japanese automaker didn't win for the commercial you might have expected: "Cog." Though Honda's famous commercial that breaks down a European Accord Tourer into a Rube Goldberg-esque machine was also a finalist, it was beaten by another Honda commercial called "Grrr" that's narrated by Garrison Keillor of all people. You've probably never seen it, but you can after the jump.
Volkswagen also made the list of finalists, but the particular ad chosen out of all the comical VW ads we've seen was unexpected as well. Most surprising carmaker with a commercial in the finals: Saturn. Who knew...