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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.
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.
Kei cars may be small in size, but they're big business in Japan. The latest arrival to the category is the little hatch you see above, the Toyota Pixis Epoch.
It's the fourth vehicle produced by the Daihatsu division but sold under the Toyota brand. As with other keis, power comes from a 660cc engine. It's mated to a continuously variable transmission driving either just the front wheels or all four. In both configurations, the Pixis Epoch features a stop-start system that helps its emissions and fuel efficiency figures come in well below even the Japanese government's stringent standards.
The whole package measures just 3,395 mm (133 inches) long, 1,475 mm (58 inches) wide and 1,500 mm (59 inches) tall, but offers a relatively spacious and utile interior, plus a tight turning radius of just 4.4 meters. Pricing ranges from 795,000 to 1.2 million yen - that's less than $10,000 (and no more than $15k). Further details in the press release after the jump.
Toyota has announced that it will unveil its first-ever kei car to be sold under its recently launched Pixis sub-brand. The vehicle, called the Pixis Space, will make its official debut in late September. Based on the Daihatsu Move Conte, the Pixis Space will be sold at Toyota dealerships through what the automakers calls "Pixis stations." Yes, seriously.
After Toyota's version of the Daihatsu Move Conte makes its debut, the Japanese automaker will launch a Pixis-badged Daihatsu Hijet truck and microvan in December. By the end of 2012, Toyota says it will launch a Pixis version of the upcoming Daihatsu e:S - a vehicle that returns 70.6 miles per gallon (U.S.) as measured under Japan's JC08 test cycle.
In case you weren't aware, Daihatsu - Japan's oldest manufacturer of automobiles - operates under the control of Toyota. In other words, these Pixis machines are simply badge engineering at the kei level.
More than any other, two carmaking giants sit at the top of the industry: Toyota and General Motors. But while GM sells under a (shrinking but still) expansive range of brands, the Toyota Motor Corporation sells most of its vehicles under its own name. That doesn't mean that Toyota, however, doesn't have its own portfolio of subsidiaries. Here in the United States we have the youth-oriented Scion division, while Lexus handles its upscale offerings, and overseas there's Daihatsu.
The budget brand offers a range of small cars under its own name; most are hatchbacks, but there's also the Copen roadster and even a rebadged Camry called the Altis. You may have come across some of their offerings while traveling overseas, particularly in Europe, but that last part is about to come to an end, according to reports.
Word from across the pond is that Toyota plans to withdraw Daihatsu from the European market altogether. The move would reportedly take effect in 2013, and if it comes to pass, would follow similar withdrawals from the North American (1992) and Australian (2006) markets. Thanks for the tip, William!
Toyota is looking to get bigger... by going smaller. The Japanese automaker is looking to enter the kei car market, a popular segment in its homeland. Kei cars are small vehicles with restrictions on length (11.15 feet), width (4.86 feet), engine size (660 cubic centimeters) and power output (63 horsepower). Currently, Toyota is the only Japanese automaker not producing vehicles for this segment, but that is set to change, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.
Thanks to its relationship with Daihatsu, Toyota can jump right into the kei car game. Daihatsu is one of the largest producer of kei vehicles and it is currently owned by Toyota.
Although kei cars are restricted in terms of size and power, they are not restricted by technology. Automakers utilize different drive configurations, powertrains and amenities to keep their cars fresh. Daihatsu and Toyota plan to work together to produce Toyota-branded kei cars. The two companies will utilize Toyota's knowledge of electric and hybrid systems to produce efficient little vehicles for the Japanese market.