October 4th, 2012 at 12:00pm
Toyota will no longer sell its Matrix hatchback in the United States. The move will free up capacity to build more Corollas. Traffic deaths in the U.S. have been declining for the past several years but that trend has reversed this year. Things are bad in Europe but in Italy sales of bicycles have actually overtaken cars! All that and more, plus a design walk around of the new 2014 Jaguar F-TYPE.
Welcome to another episode of Autoline Daily. It’s Wednesday, the 12th of September, 2012. We’re sure glad you decided to join us for this limited-time engagement. I’m Jim Hall with 2953 Analytics. Let’s get started, shall we?
MATRIX SENT OUT TO PASTURE (subscription required)
Toyota will no longer sell the Matrix, hatchback brother to the Corolla, in the U.S. According to WardsAuto, the 2013 model will be the last one because of a big drop off in sales. In 2002 nearly 67,000 were sold. But so far this year just over 3,000 Matrixes have been sold in the United States. Toyota has decided that Matrix capacity at the company’s Cambridge, Ontario is better used by its broader-appeal Corolla sedan.
TRAFFIC FATALITIES RISE
Speaking of ‘Merica, traffic deaths in the U.S. have been declining for the past several years but that trend has reversed this year. Reuters reports they’ve gone up 9 percent in the first half of the year to just over 16,000. It’s too early to know what’s leading to the increase but it could be because more people are driving now that the economy is improving.
CNG FOR GOVERNMENT FLEETS
In an effort to get more compressed natural-gas vehicles on the road, a coalition of 22 states say they are willing to purchase CNG-powered vehicles… if automakers build more. According to the Detroit News, Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper says the group wants to purchase up to 10,000 natural-gas vehicles a year. Instead of converting its fleets, the governors would rather purchase CNG cars built at a plant because they say it’s cheaper. Honda is the only automaker that currently sells a natural gas-powered car in the U.S.
BICYCLES OVERTAKE CARS IN ITALY
Now over to Europe. The economy is pretty bad over there right now, but the scary thing is it shows no sign of improving anytime soon and some analysts say things will get worse before they get better. Of course the crisis has hammered the auto industry, and the situation in Italy is particularly troubling. The boot-shaped country is taking cues from it neighbor across the Adriatic Sea, Greece. The Detroit Free Press reports new-vehicle sales have fallen so far they’re being outpaced by bicycles! That’s right; bikes are outselling cars for the first time since the Second World War! Hammered by recession and with some of the highest fuel prices in Europe it’s no wonder Italians are shunning car.
TOYOTA GAINING ON FORD
Never, ever, ever count Toyota out. The Japanese juggernaut is regaining steam after last year’s devastating earthquake/tsunami combo. The company is doing so well it’s catching up to Ford in the U.S. sales race. According to the Detroit News, the Blue Oval topped the Capital “T” by a mere 3,066 units last month. This is Ford’s smallest margin of victory over Toyota since it regained the No. 2 ranking in the U.S. back in April of Twenty-Ten. Still, Ford is leading the race for the year by about 113,000 units. A likely reason it stumbled in September is that inventory is running short on some key models including the Fusion and new Escape.
TURBO SALES SWELL
Downsizing and turbocharging are the latest fads… no, make that TRENDS, to sweep the automotive industry as OEMs race to meet ever-stricter fuel-economy standards. On the frontline of this trend is Honeywell, one of the largest turbo manufactures in the world. Business is booming and the company estimates the number of vehicles equipped with exhaust-driven blowers will increase 80 percent by 2017. That works out to around 36 million units, or 40 percent of the new light-vehicles sold. For some perspective, that figure was only 25 percent last year. And remember, these numbers include both gasoline- and diesel-fueled engines.
Sit tight, whatever that means . . . because after the brief interlude we’ll take a peek at one of the most highly anticipated cars that was revealed at the Paris Motor Show.
2014 JAGUAR F-TYPE
One of the most anticipated debuts at this year’s Paris Motor Show was a little two-seater from Jaguar. The distinctively styled F-TYPE is a thoroughly modern take on the traditional British sports car. Doing things properly, the car features rear-wheel drive and a variety of engine choices. At the show John ran across Wayne Burgess, Jaguar’s production studio design director. In the following interview he talks in depth about what it took to develop this exciting new vehicle.
And another sign of that enthusiasm is what’s under the F-TYPE’s hood. Several different engines are offered, including a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 with either 340 or 380 horsepower. There’s also a force-fed 5.0-liter V-8 with up to 500 ponies. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.
And by jove that’s the end of today’s progrum. Crickie, it sure went by in a hurry! But if you’re hankerin’ for more news from Paris check out tonight’s episode of Autoline After Hours. McElroy and ‘Renzo are out of town BUT we’re rebroadcasting our LIVE coverage of the auto show. It all starts at the usual time, 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Autoline.tv. Give it a look-see. And with that, I’m Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics signing off, à tout à l’heure!