September 2nd, 2009 at 12:00pm
Cars sales were up in the American market, but they are still not good. Hyundai released two sketches of its next-generation 2010 Sonata. Dodge is going to dump the Sprinter van, which now will be sold under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner brands. All that and more, plus John answers viewer questions in the “You Said It!” segment.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Cars sales were up in the American market, but they still stink. A sneak peek at the next Hyundai Sonata. Dodge dumps the Sprinter van.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Wednesday, September 2, 2009. And now the news.
We’ve got the full data on August sales for the American market, and while they were better, this is still not what you would call good. According to Ward’s total sales hit 1.2 million units for the month (subscription required), for an annualized rate of 14-million vehicles. And while everyone seems happy, two years ago we would have called that a terrible number.
Amongst the full-line manufacturers, Honda/Acura were up 48 percent, Nissan/Infiniti were up 46 percent, GM up 30 percent, Toyota/Lexus/Scion up 28 percent, FoMoCo up 10 percent and Chrysler Co., which pretty much ran out of inventory, up only 4 percent. To get a good read on how Cash for Clunkers affected sales, it’s best to compare month over month, instead of year over year. In other words, let’s compare August sales to July. And by that measure total sales were up 26 percent, by far the biggest increase we’ve seen in years.
Sales incentives have also worked wonders in the Japanese and German markets. The Detroit Free Press reports sales in Japan were up 2.3 percent last month. And Germany says 2 million new vehicles were sold under its scrappage scheme.
Honda just released official photos of the Accord Crosstour, a weird-looking combination of hatchback and crossover built off the Accord. I hope the front three-quarter view looks better in person than the ungainly look it has in this photo, though the rear-quarter view isn’t too bad. Honda hopes to broaden the Accord line by introducing the Crosstour.
Dodge is going to dump the Sprinter van, so now it will be sold under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner brands. Mercedes created a new subsidiary called Daimler Vans USA to handle all Sprinters in North America. I think it’s a good bet that Chrysler could get a replacement from Fiat. The Iveco Daily, is very similar to the Sprinter, and Iveco is Fiat’s commercial vehicle division.
Hyundai released two sketches of its next-generation 2010 Sonata. The droopy beltline and coupe-like profile sure look like the trendsetting Mercedes-Benz CLS. Autoblog is running a couple photos of the car that were leaked. The pics show a grille that looks a lot like a VW Passat CC’s, and headlights that are very similar to the CLS. The new Sonata will launch in South Korea on September 10.
Kia will introduce a new sub-brand of eco-friendly cars called EcoDynamics (subscription required) at the Frankfurt Auto Show. According to Ward’s, the models will feature technologies like start/stop hybrid systems, a power-saving alternator-management system, and low-rolling resistance tires. In the future, Kia will add aerodynamic styling, alternative-fuel systems, and hybrid, electric and fuel cell-powered vehicles to the brand. Kia will show three EcoDynamics-badged vehicles at the show, the Forte LPI Hybrid, Cee’d Hybrid and Sorento Hybrid.
We just got a chance to drive the new convertible version of the Nissan 370Z. It’s shorter compared to the previous model and is also 150 pounds lighter, thanks to the use an aluminum hood, deck lid and doors. Mechanically, everything else is the same. Like the previous generation, the Z Roadster comes with a soft top, but the rear window was moved down. Nissan prefers the soft top because it reduces weight and also allows for more trunk space. Look for the 370Z Roadster in showrooms in the next few weeks with a starting price over $37,000.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
This is “You Said It!” Every day we get dozens of comments and questions from you, our viewers. “You Said It!” gives me a chance to respond.
dmax5678 saw our report on the Hyundai Equus and really noticed the hood ornament. It prompted him to say, “I respect Hyundai for going hard into the luxury market, but I think they have a lot of nerve putting that hood ornament on there. It doesn’t even resemble anything, and to me it makes it look like they’re trying waaaaaay too hard.”
Dmax, remember, we drove a Korean-spec Equus, and I think you’ll find that in the Korean and Middle-Eastern markets where it’s already sold, the hood ornament is considered popular. I’ll bet that when the car comes to the American market it will not have a hood ornament. Even though it’s spring-loaded, those things are worse than the bulls in Pamplona when it comes to goring pedestrians.
Bill wrote in to ask, “If GM doesn’t sell Opel, can they continue to supply cars to Roger Penske (Saturn)?”
Bill, neither GM nor Opel are going to supply cars to Saturn after next year. That’s why the word in the industry is that Penske is going to get Samsung in Korea to build cars to be sold as Saturns. Remember, Samsung is owned now owned by Renault.
And Pedro Fernandez saw our report that GM is looking at building a $4,000 car for emerging markets, and had this to say, “GM has had a $4,000 car for a long time, it’s a four-year-old Cavalier or an Aveo.”
And that’s right, the challenge to coming out with el-cheapo new cars is that they’re competing against good used cars that in most cases come better equipped.
Across town and around the world, that’ll do it for today’s top auto news. As always, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.