Auto blogMon, 03 Dec 2012 10:33:00 EST
The Mazda CX-5 stamped its Kodo design and SkyActiv technology authority all over the Japan Car of the Year awards, taking the top prize ahead of the Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT 86. It is Mazda's second victory in the last ten years, the 2005 MX-5 claiming the same trophy, and the fourth time the Hiroshima company has won.
The award is decided by 60 local "automotive experts and journalists," and open to any passenger car released in Japan from November 1, 2011 to October 31, 2012 that has sold more than 500 units. Each judge gets 25 votes, his or her top vote getting 10 points, the rest of the points being spread among the judge's choice for the next best four cars.
The second-place getters were the Toyobaru twins with 318 votes, the surprise being they didn't beat or get any closer to the crossover. The Subaru BRZ did claw some mojo back, earning the Special Award given to cars that have made "an exceptional impact." The BMW 3 Series was third overall and won the Import Car of the Year award with plenty of room between it and the second place Range Rover Evoque.
Jaguar and Land Rover are set to merge their sales facilities, according to Inside Line. Jaguar Land Rover North America President Andy Gross says 45 percent of Jaguar owners also have an SUV in their stable, so it makes sense to give customers as much exposure to the cat's high-riding cousins and possible. The number of overall outlets will remain the same, and the brands will reportedly remain separate on the showroom floor, however.
So far, just one dealer has made the move to combine under the roof of one 68,000 square-foot facility in Paramus, New Jersey (above), though a further 20 are ready to make the shift and become Jaguar Land Rover outlets. Gross believes the shift is necessary so that his company's dealer network will accurately reflect the company's products. We'll see how cozy the brands are when Jaguar starts rolling out its own SUVs in a few years.
While the European auto market for Jaguar and Land Rover is waning, Chinese car buyers can't get enough of the British marques. To meet that demand, Tata Motors, parent company of Jag and Land Rover, is partnering with Chinese automaker Chery Automobile Co.
The two announced plans to invest $1.75 billion to build a new plant and create a new, China-focused brand. 2014 is the target for completion of the factory. Jaguars and Land Rovers built at the facility will be the first ever produced outside the UK according to the Associated Press. The JV will be called Chery Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Company Ltd.
The announcement comes less than a month after JLR announced it would open a design studio in China. It's not clear from the reports whether the two announcements are part of the same JV or two separate plans.
It's hard to think back now, but the same man overseeing the design of the 2013 Ford Fusion also presided over a rather lackluster period in Ford design, highlighted by vehicles like the Five Hundred and Freestyle. With the redesigned Fusion receiving high praise, J Mays tells Automotive News that he feels vindicated from criticisms suggesting he's not a daring enough designer.
When Mays took over as lead of design in 1997, he admits to having quite an ego ("My head would barely fit through the door some days. I've long since gotten over myself") and the workload to match. With the Blue Oval's portfolio full of premium brands like Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo at that point, along with the bread-and-butter Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models, Mays certainly had quite the challenge.
It was in the mid-2000s that Mays took over just the premium brands, and took on the new title of Chief Creative Officer. At the time, Mays endured some criticism for looking backwards to retro styling, rather than setting a new standard for American car design - criticism that Mays says he is free from with the all-new Fusion.