GM is recalling a certain number of 2013 and 2014 model year Chevrolet Camaro Coupes because the required air bag warning label on the sun visor may peel off. This label warns occupants of a vehicle that the airbag can hit them in the face and hurt them in the process of saving their lives. It’s like you don’t want the life guard to give your drowning child mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because of his garlic breath. [Read more…]
Auto recalls seem to be in the news more often these days. And they seem to become bigger and bigger, affecting millions of vehicles at the same time. This is a result of modular platforms and large-scale manufacturing. Automakers are developing more common parts to fit into multiple models, across multiple brands, which reduces costs of development and manufacturing of parts. But there is a risk involved with this trend: when a part proves to be faulty, a larger number of cars, sometimes across continents, need to be recalled to the dealer to fix the part.
In the United States, the manufacturer can be forced to recall a certain number of cars by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, when this government agency thinks the issues cause the cars to no longer comply with the safety standards. But besides the safety issues, some recalls are just plain weird.
Here’s a list of the 8 weirdest auto recalls ever:
The minicar segment in Europe as a whole saw flat in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. Minicar-specialist Fiat is the traditional leader of the segment, although Panda sales are down and first place has been taken by its sister Fiat 500, with VW Up! becoming a serious threat for second place as well.
Zooming in on the battle between the two triplets in the ranking, the Bratislava-built Up!, Citigo and Mii rack up 154.734 sales (+44%) between them, while their much older rivals Aygo, C1 and 107 still hold strong with 137.506 combined sales (-15%). What’s interesting, is that the Kolin-built triplet divide sales pretty evenly among themselves, while VW Up! takes about two thirds of the three model’s combined sales, almost 4,5 times as many as its little sister Seat Mii. Read my article about Seat’s fate within the VW-Group, where I mention this phenomenon as well.
The subcompact segment in Europe as a whole saw a small decline of 8% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. Despite sales down 7%, Ford Fiesta has reclaimed the crown in the segment, after Renault Clio (+20%) was the leader after six months this year. Obviously, the Aston Martin-style front end has struck a chord with European carbuyers, especially in the UK, where 43% of all European Fiestas are sold (+8%).
Opel/Vauxhall Corsa has fallen off the podium to fifth place (-11%), being overtaken by both French refreshed models Renault Clio and Peugeot 208. This is not very surprising, with Corsa desperately longing for a model change as well, with a design that was already out of fashion at its introduction in 2006, something two facelifts in 2010 and 2011 can’t disguise. It has become a rental company favorite, since private buyers looking to spend their hard-earned cash on a subcompact car know other models offer more style and sophistication for the money. In its home market Germany, only 18% of Corsa sales were to private buyers! [Read more…]
The compact segment in Europe as a whole saw a small decline of 3% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. VW Golf remains the perennial leader by far, even increasing its market share because sales are up 2%. Ford Focus and Opel Astra complete the podium like last year, but Focus (-7%) has increased its lead over Astra (-16%) from 7.225 units last year to 21.603 this year. Astra suffers from outdated technology, with engines that lack fuel efficiency. Only 23% of Astra sales in its home market Germany were to private customers, compared to 31% and 34% for Golf and Focus respectively.
Below we see Skoda Octavia (-18%) pass Renault Megane (-26%), the former not yet fully taking advantage of its model change and the latter desperately longing for a refreshing. Toyota Auris sales are up 59% thanks to the introduction of the TS station wagon, the only hybrid station wagon on the market. As a result, Prius sales are down 31%. [Read more…]
The midsize segment in Europe as a whole saw a sharp decline of 26% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. This is a result of a clear shift towards premium models in this segment. In fact, if we would combine the premium midsize with this segment, BMW 3-series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-class would hold the 1st, 3rd and 4th place of the combined segment respectively.
Segment leader Passat has increased its market share slightly, as sales are off just under the segment average at -22%, as does its stretched-but-cheaper sister Skoda Superb (-21%), moving up to 5th place, passing Toyota Avensis (-39%). Biggest losers in the top 10 are Opel Insignia (-31%), Peugeot 508 (also -31%), Ford Mondeo (-34%), Toyota Avensis (-39%), which desperately needs a hybrid powertrain in order to stay competitive against the diesels, and Citroën C5 (-34%), suffering the most from the shift towards premium. It leaves you wondering how profitable Insignia and Mondeo must be, with sales divided between no less than three different body styles (sedan, liftback and station wagon), where all others make do with two and keeping in mind sales in this segment are traditionally skewed towards station wagons anyways. [Read more…]
The small MPV segment in Europe as a whole saw a healthy increase of 13% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year, thanks to the introduction of two major new players who have shaken up the segment. Fiat 500L and Ford B-max were introduced in 2012 and are now the number 1 and 2 of the segment, knocking Opel Meriva off the top spot. With the European population aging, this segment will show even more growth in the future, as these models are very popular among the elderly carbuyers, because of their high seating position. Marketed mainly towards young families, the target group tends to prefer small SUVs for their style or mid-sized MPVs for their practicality.
Fiat 500L has been a welcome addition to the Fiat 500-family and has helped its utterly forgettable predecessor Idea to do exactly that: be forgotten quickly. In its home market Italy, it has been outselling its namegiver for three consecutive months and has been on the podium twice. Half of its European sales come from outside Italy, which may be more than any other large Fiat has accomplished since Fiat 127 in the seventies. Even in the US, the Serbian-built MPV has helped offset falling sales of the original Fiat 500 to keep Fiat brand sales flat year-to-date. Maybe this incredibly funny commercial “I’ve got my hose in the back” has got anything to do with it. [Read more…]
The once booming midsized MPV segment in Europe saw sales decline 12% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year, with all but two models in the top 10 selling more units than in 2012 and a very stable ranking, with just two models moving up in the top 10. Peugeot 3008 benefits from a steeper fall by Opel Zafira, and Dacia Lodgy passing Toyota Verso and Seat Altea for a ticket into the European top 10 at number 9.
That means Renault Scenic & Grand Scenic stays of the segment, despite (or thanks to?) already being facelifted twice since its 2009 launch. Ford C-Max & Grand C-Max are getting closer, leaving behind VW Touran, another model that’s had more nose (and tail-)jobs than Cher, which can’t hide that the basics have been around for 10 years and counting. [Read more…]
The large MPV segment in Europe saw a sharp fall of 25% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year, with just the slowest selling of the only 9 players left in the segment selling more than last year. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, looking at the age of some of the models:
Lancia Voyager has been around as Chrysler Grand Voyager since 2007, rebadged into a Lancia in 2011 to replace the even slower-selling Phedra. But don’t expect Voyager to keep up this sales pace, numbers will keep going down faster than an iPhone battery.
Ford S-Max and Galaxy were introduced in 2006, when they shook up the segment. Their replacement is long overdue, because the production will move from the soon to be shuttered Genk factory to Spain, similar to Mondeo. The current versions are kept from even further declines with steep discounts and extra kit. If you’re looking for a good deal and don’t care about being hip and trendy (as every other MPV-owner), head straight to your Ford-dealer. Don’t expect the new generations to be able repeat the magic and turn the segment around once more. They’re still nothing more than large vans. [Read more…]
The small SUV segment in Europe is the fastest growing segment, growing 65% in the first three quarters of 2013 compared to the same period last year. By year end, the growth percentage will have increased even further, thanks to the hugely successful new entrants into the segment.
In 2014, the podium will look much differently, with Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 storming the podium, leaving Opel Mokka and Dacia Duster behind.
Within a few years time, the number of players in this segment will increase, as manufacturers have taken an interest in one of the bright spots in the European car market.
One of the new entrants in 2014 will be Fiat 500X, a crossover which will feature design clues from its little sister Fiat 500, as Fiat is trying to build 500 into a family of vehicles, much like BMW’s successful Mini brand. 500X will be introduced in the second half of next year and will share its platform with a Jeep vehicle. [Read more…]