US car sales in October 2015 were up by 14% compared to October 2014, continuing their incredible rise in the second half of the year. Clearly, the current market conditions of low gas prices, low interest rates and a favorable economic outlook encourage car buying. It also shows that consumers seem not to have lost their fate in the industry as many have predicted they would in the aftermath of Dieselgate. [Read more…]
One of the biggest success stories of 2015 in the US has been the Nissan Rogue (X-Trail in other markets). Whereas the previous generation in its first year (2007) sold only 30% as many units as the leader of the Compact SUV segment, the Honda CR-V, in 2015 so far it’s sold more than 80% as many units, and may yet finish the year in 4th place if it can overhaul the Chevy Equinox over the past 3 months of the year. By all rights, Nissan should be very happy with how the new Rogue has performed, however there is one version of the car that Nissan has so far denied that US, but which could cement the model’s success and make a true push for class leadership: the Nissan Rogue Hybrid. [Read more…]
Some people may forget but VW was in trouble in the US well before Dieselgate hit the fan. Causes included a narrow model range and SUVs too expensive for the marketplace, but arguably the biggest reason VW was less than halfway towards its stated 800,000 units per year target was that consumers were losing interest in the boring designs of the mainstream Jetta and Passat sedans. VW had to do something, and the MY 2014 Jetta is what it came up with… [Read more…]
When Nissan released photos of the facelifted, MY2016 Altima in September I almost missed them, as skimming the images suggested it was just a new batch of Maxima pictures. It seems the carmaker decided that it will push the new front look pioneered by the Murano and Maxima onto all its models – the facelifts of the Pathfinder and Sentra are just around the corner. Personally, I much prefer the pre-facelift model, which I feel not only simply looks better but also shows a more distinctive personality. Why would Nissan mess with success? Is a unified front end on all its cars that important? Would I like it more if the front end was more successful? [Read more…]
1. Mazda RX-Vision
Mazda’s, ahem, vision for a future sports model made RX fanboys giddy at a prospect of the return of the beloved Wankel-powered coupe, made others salivate at the RX-Vision’s sexy, Aston-esque looks, and made me wonder whether Mazda can afford to muck about with Wankel technology in an era when emissions and fuel consumption, always the engine’s weak spots, are more important then ever.
Pickup trucks were originally developed in the US as an easy way to carry cargo and two people in a cabin, and for a long time were available in all different sizes, ranging from the really small (Subaru BRAT, Dodge Ram 50, VW Caddy) to full-size. By the mid-80s, however, truly small pickups has fallen out of favor with customer and new models neatly fell into two main segments: so-called small pickups that were not really small (Chevy S-10/Colorado, Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma) and full-size pickups (Chevy Silverado, Dodge/Ram pickup, Ford F-series), with only the Dodge/Ram Dakota trying to squeeze in between as a medium pickup. This continued for over two decades until the end of the early 2010s, when the main three US carmakers discontinued their small/medium offerings. And while Chevy has since re-entered the market with a new midsize Colorado there are no more truly small pickups on the US market. [Read more…]
Scrambling to recover from the self-inflicted Dieselgate, VW is announcing changes left, right and center. We’ve already heard of Winterkorn leaving, reduced spending and possible cuts to model ranges, leading to speculation as to the future of white elephants such as the VW Phaeton and Bugatti Chiron. Well, now the news is that not only VW will bring both models to market, but that it will actually crown the Phaeton range with an all-electric model (cue stories of yet another “Tesla fighter”).
Ferrari finally showed off the F12 GTO… well, at least that’s what everyone is thinking. The car is in fact called the F12tdf, which Ferrari would like you to know stands for Tour de France, a car road race which the brand apparently dominated in the 1950s and 1960s. Instead, most of us will simply roll our eyes at yet another unnecessary name change for the brand’s special cars (GTO, Speciale, Challenge Stradale, Scuderia…) and the baffling decision to base the new name on a race which is now much more associated with bikes than cars… [Read more…]
The new Audi A4 is not exactly the most original-looking of cars – it looks almost like the previous generation, with a hint of the big-brother A6 and sporty-brother TT mixed in. But that is to be expected, as Audi is the mayor in all-models-should-look-similar-to-establish-a-family-look-town. Alas, the new A4 also borrows a design element from a quite different source… [Read more…]
Bart has been encouraging me to write my own take on VW’s diesel scandal, but that’s been proving hard since his take on the issue pretty much was all that I could have been hoping to say. So instead of writing a long article, I figured I’d ask you all what you think, and then share a few thoughts I have on the subject matter.
1. VW is guilty…
It is important to admit as much before we go digging further. Yes, other carmakers could be doing the same and yes, the fuel consumption/emissions testing regime is not without fault. But at the end of the day the fact remains that VW did, knowingly, install software to cheat on an emissions test meant to prevent pollution which causes serious health issues.