February 2nd, 2012 at 11:55am
Sales of new cars and trucks blew out of the gate in the American market last month. Even though General Motors spends less on research and development than Volkswagen and Toyota, the company is No. 1 when it comes to generating patents. Remember that California woman that was suing Honda in small-claims court because her Civic Hybrid didn’t deliver the fuel economy promised on the window sticker? Yeah, in a shocking bit of news she actually won the case! All this and more, plus the latest news from Mopar.
This is Autoline Daily for February 2nd, and now, the news.
JANUARY SALES: REACH FOR THE STARS (subscription required)
Sales of new cars and trucks blew out of the gate in the American market last month. Ward’s reports that 910,000 vehicles were sold, an 11.5 percent increase compared to a year ago. Most impressively, the SAAR rate hit 14.1 million vehicles, a rate that suggests this year will come in almost 1.5 million vehicles higher than last. The biggest sales gain came from Mazda, which posted a 68 percent increase. Volkswagen was up 48 percent. Chrysler Group was up 43 percent. Jaguar-Land Rover up 31 percent. And Kia was up 28 percent. The biggest losers were Suzuki, down 41 percent; Mitsubishi, down 17 percent; and General Motors, down 6 percent. Saab was actually down the most, but we’re not counting them. The Toyota Camry was the best-selling car; the F-Series, the best-selling truck; and the Honda CR-V was the best-selling crossover. If this is a sign of things to come, let’s get going! 2012 could be a very good year.
BRAZIL’S JANUARY “CAR” NIVAL
Not only were sales up in the American market, they were up in Brazil, too. New-car sales were just over 268,000 units in January, which is a 9.6 percent increase compared to a year ago. This is a good sign because companies like GM, Ford, Fiat and VW rely heavily on sales in the region.
PATENTLY THE BEST
Even though General Motors spends less on research and development than Volkswagen and Toyota, the company is No. 1 when it comes to generating patents. For the fourth consecutive quarter, GM is tops among 183 companies ranked by The Patent Board in its automotive and transportation industry scorecard. GM was granted 1,123 patents in the U.S. last year.
DAVID AND GOLIATH (subscription required)
Talk about David and Goliath. Remember that California woman that was suing Honda in small-claims court because her Civic Hybrid didn’t deliver the fuel economy promised on the window sticker? Yeah, in a shocking bit of news she actually won the case! The former lawyer opted out of a class-action suit against the company in an effort to get a higher settlement, and it worked. She was awarded nearly 10 grand.
CHINA’S CARBON-COPY FOOTPRINT
What is with these Chinese copy cats? The other day we showed you a truck built by JAC that is a shameless rip-off of the Ford F-150. That prompted Ross, an Autoline Daily viewer in Queensland, Australia to send us a picture of the JAC Reni ute, which is a unabashed carbon-copy of the Chevy Colorado! What did I tell you? Shameless.
SUBMITTED FOR YOUR APPROVAL
This next one was submitted by the gratuitous explosions department of Autoline Daily. It’s a clip from the TV show “Stuntbusters.” Flames and flying cars; what’s cooler than that? I’ll tell you what: slow motion. Watch this MG Midget tumble and burn at 1,000 frames per second. Why’d we pick this story? Just ‘cause.
MOPAR OR NO CAR
Coming up next, it’s we’ll take a look at the new performance models Mopar is coming out with.
2012 is an important year for Chrysler’s Mopar brand. The “motor parts” division is celebrating its 75th birthday. From humble beginnings, it’s come a long way in the last three-quarters of a century.
And Mopar has spread to more than 120 countries around the world. It’s also expanding the number of services it offers, handling things like customer care, aftermarket performance and, of course, replacement parts. Chrysler’s alliance with Fiat means more customers in more markets have Mopar as an option the next time their vehicle needs service.
And to build customer loyalty Mopar is working with dealers to improve brand identity by redesigning customer waiting areas. These new spaces will be bright and cheerful, with things like wireless internet to make the time spent at a dealership as painless as possible. Parts and maintenance may have been how this brand got started, but today it’s so much more than that.
And some of its latest aftermarket parts will be showcased on four new specialty vehicles making their public debuts next week at the Chicago Auto Show. They include a hopped-up Cinquecento – the Fiat 500 Stinger – with a host of appearance upgrades . . . . . a modified Dodge Dart called the GTS 210 Tribute. Among many other changes, it features a carbon-fiber hood and an available performance package delivering up to 210 horsepower. Next we have the Mopar ‘12 300. Beyond appearance upgrades this Chrysler features a shorter final-drive ratio for faster acceleration and a lowered suspension. Lastly, Jeep joins the mix with the Compass True North. It goes the opposite way by gaining a two-inch lift along with new bodywork.
Going forward, we’re told Mopar will stay very connected with its heritage of performance and personalization, but it will also focus on advanced new technology to stay relevant in the next 75 years.
Don’t forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. Our guest will be Chris Preuss, the former president of OnStar and former vice president of corporate communications at General Motors. This is going to be a very lively discussion, so join me and the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo for the best insider discussions in the industry.
And that wraps up today’s show, join us again tomorrow.