Auto News for June 30 – Auto Sales Forecasts

Automakers will report on June sales Friday morning and most analysts are predicting sales will remain strong. Depending on the forecaster, sales will increase from 3.8 percent to about 5 percent. But some analysts are uneasy with the rising incentives automakers are offering to retain those sales numbers. How much will consumers spend for new vehicles? How about $37.5 billion dollars for the month of June, according to J.D. Power.

A New York consulting firm, Alix Partners, believes auto sales will end the year slightly down from previous forecasts. That would be total light vehicle sales of 17.5 million, down from a previous forecast of 17.8 million, according to Automotive News. If they are correct, that would end a period of seven straight years of sales growth.

GM’s chief economist believes that Britain’s exit from the European market will have a minimal effect on U.S. sales. But he believes it is too early to see what the exit will have on the European auto market. But Mustafa Mohatarem said the decision may cause the Fed to hold off on any interest rate increases and that would be good for U.S. sales.

The man who created the Ford advertising slogan that “Quality is Job 1” has died. Robert Cox suffered from complications caused by a heart attack. He was 78. Cox was also known for the “Just Say No” antidrug campaign used by former First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Chevrolet has been named the “Official Truck of the Sports Car Club of America” and will haul equipment trailers to nearly 30 events, or about 70.000 miles a year.

Auto News for June 29

If you own a VW diesel you really should take a look at this story on the proposed court settlement and how it will affect your vehicle.

If the link does not work, go to the Detroit News website and check the Auto News section.

VW is far from out of the woods on all this despite the proposed $15 billion dollar settlement. There are environmental and potential criminal matters that have to be settled here in the U.S. as well as similar cases in Europe involving 8.5 million vehicles there. For more on this, I invite your attention to:

Toyota today announced that it is conducting a safety recall of approximately 482,000 Model Year 2010 – 2012 Prius; 2010 and 2012 Prius Plug-In Hybrids and 2011 and 2012 Lexus CT 200h vehicles. The involved vehicles are equipped with curtain shield air bags in the driver and passenger side roof rails that have air bag inflators composed of two chambers welded together.  Some inflators could have a small crack in the weld area joining the chambers, which could grow over time, and lead to the separation of the inflator chambers.  This has been observed when the vehicle is parked and unoccupied for a period of time.  If an inflator separates, the CSA could partially inflate, and, in limited circumstances, one or both sections of the inflator could enter the interior of the vehicle.  If an occupant is present in the vehicle, there is an increased risk of injury. All known owners of the involved vehicles will be notified by first class mail. This recall is not related to the Takata air bag issue.

Lotus Elite

The very first production Lotus Elite, a pre-production prototype manufactured in 1959, will be auctioned off in Great Britain on July 30th. Hidden away in storage for many years, the car with a strong racing history has just emerged from a top quality, exacting restoration. It is said to be a “thrill to drive, in pristine condition and ready to race.” has released its annual “American-Made Index” ranking the most American cars and for the second year in a row and sixth time overall, the Toyota Camry came out on top. It considers how many domestic parts are included in a car, where the final assembly point is, and overall vehicle sales. Finishing second this year was the Honda Accord, followed by the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and the Honda Pilot. The Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, and the Buick Enclave followed.

Auto News for June 28 – Big VW Settlement Goes Before the Judge


VW will present a $14.7 billion dollar settlement offer to the courts regarding its diesel engines, giving owners the option of either getting their vehicles repaired, or selling them back to the maker. The New York Times called this one of the largest consumer class-action settlements ever in this country. It cited two sources close to the settlement offer that will be presented today to a judge in California overseeing the case that involves 475,000 VW vehicles. The EPA must approve the repair procedure. If the settlement is approved, it would be the largest yet by an auto company, well above the $1.4 billion that Toyota paid to settle a case involving accelerators. Reuters said the settlement could top $15 billion. News of the settlement moved VW shares higher in Europe. A top European Union official said VW should make the same deal with European owners that it offers those in the U.S.

Takata’s chairman told shareholders he will step down as soon as the company is not at risk of “faltering.” The company was founded by Shigehisa Takada’s grandfather has been seeking outside funding to cope with the recall of about 60 million vehicles in the U.S. with the defective airbags. They have been linked to 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Corporate advisers have said Takada is facing possible bankruptcy. One of the big unanswered questions is how much of the recall effort will be met by the automakers and how much will be paid by Takata. It is one of only three major airbag makers worldwide.

Jeep will show off its replacement for the Compass and Patriot at the Los Angeles auto show in November with a Jeep based pickup appearing in 2018, according to Automotive News. It cited comments from Jeep official Mike Manley who said the Wrangler-based pickup will make its debut only after a new Wrangler appears in the first half of next year.

James Bond’s car company is in the red. Aston Martin has reported a pre-tax loss of $172 million in 2015, the fifth year in a row that the British auto company has been in the red. Aston has invested heavily in expansion efforts including the development of a Sport Utility Vehicle, the DBX, and is building a new manufacturing plant in South Wales.

For the first time, Brownsville Texas has been named the safest city in the country to drive in, according to the 12th annual America’s Best Drivers Report from Allstate. The average driver in Brownsville experiences an auto collision every 14.6 years, which is 31.4 percent less often than the national average of every 10 years. It was followed by Kansas City Kansas, Madison Wisconsin, Cape Coral Florida, and Boise Idaho. Lexington Kentucky and Kansas City Missouri came in at the bottom of the survey.

New car sales are expected to increase 5 percent in June for an estimated 17.1 million Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate, according to Kelley Blue Book. “June 2016 is expected to bring mostly positive numbers for new-vehicle sales and the industry remains on pace for another top performing year,” said Tim Fleming, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “As we head into summer, sales should stabilize just slightly ahead of last year’s pace.” KBB predicts strong sales for Subaru and Honda.

Top Gear USA has been canceled by the History Channel, according to Co-Host Rutledge Wood in a posting on Facebook and Instagram. “I’m not saying Top Gear on History is done,” he said, but “it’s done for the immediate future on History.” There are no additional shows scheduled to be produced after this evening’s program airs. He said the three co-hosts will “stick together and hope to bring you much more Top Gear USA, albeit it somewhere else …”









Auto News for June 27


Subaru released the full lap video of its record shattering lap of the Isle of Man TT Course. Piloted by Mark Higgins, the 2016 Subaru WRX STI broke the lap record on the fabled 37-mile Isle of Man TT Road Course with an average lap speed of 128.73 mph and a time of 17 minutes and 35 seconds. This breaks the previous record held by Higgins of 116.47 mph and a time of 19 minutes and 26 seconds.  The video is available on Subaru of America’s YouTube channel under the title: 2016 Subaru WRX STI Isle of Man TT – Flat out. It is well worth your checking it out. This with a strong cup of coffee this morning will keep you going for the rest of the day!

GM will invest $290 million for technology upgrades at the Bowling Green, Kentucky plant that manufactures the Corvette. The announcement came from state officials who said the investment will also create up to 270 jobs over the next decade.

Auto makers are hoping for a stock rebound today after their shares took a tumble Friday after the British vote to exit the European Union. Ford shares fell 6.6 percent, GM was off 4.9 percent, and Fiat Chrysler dropped 12.2 percent. There are concerns about potentially slowing sales, currency devaluations and free-trade policies, according to the Detroit News.


Auto News for June 24 – Proposed VW Diesel Deal?

2015_golf_tdi_4031 (1)

Under an agreement to be submitted to a California judge next week, VW will pay $10 billion to owners of its diesel cars that cheated on emission standards. The A.P. and Bloomberg cited unnamed sources for their reports. A total of 482,000 diesel owners would receive from $1,000 to $7,000 each depending on various factors such as a vehicle’s age. Federal judge Charles Breyer will make the final decision next Tuesday. Analysts told the Detroit News that while the deal will be costly it is something VW can manage and it is important to get the diesel emission scandal behind it. VW is also expected to be required to pay a large fine to offset the environmental damage caused by the diesels.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Touring-L Plus

It’s a tie! The new Chrysler Pacifica and the Honda Odyssey share first place in U.S. News & World Report ranking of minivans. It said the Pacifica offers a comfortable, useful interior, and that is what vans are all about.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted 40 mph passenger side small overlap tests on seven small SUVs. All carried good ratings for protecting drivers, but the IIHS wanted to know how well front seat passengers would fare. It said only one of the vehicles, the 2016 Hyundai Tucson, performed at a level corresponding to a good rating. The others ran the gamut from poor to acceptable. The IIHS said it is considering including the new test as part of its Top Safety Pick criteria. Toyota said the test goes beyond federal rating standards and called it severe. IIHS said the test should not make anyone trade their small sport ute, but passenger protection is something they might want to consider come trade-in time.

Edmunds is optimistic. It is predicting that June auto sales will be the best in 11 years. “The industry may not be growing as fast as in recent years but, at the halfway point of 2016, it’s still on pace to set another annual sales record,” says Director of Industry Analysis Jessica Caldwell.  “As long as economic conditions — like low unemployment and easy access to credit — continue, the industry will be in a strong position through the busy summer sales months.”

Auto News for June 23 – Kia & the Detroit Three Impress in New Survey


2016 K900

Kia has topped J.D. Power’s latest study on how consumers feel about their vehicles after 90 days of ownership. It is a big win for Kia, becoming the first brand outside luxury offerings to top the Power survey in almost 30 years. Also receiving high marks this year were Porsche, Hyundai, Toyota and BMW. And owners, overall, reported fewer problems this time around with the average number of complaints coming in at 105 compared to 112 a year ago.

Mainly, owners found entertainment, communications and navigation systems less trouble prone in U.S. and South Korean offerings. Power said European and Japanese did not fare as well in those categories.

And there was good news for the Detroit three. GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler improved their scores by 10 percent, and that was double the rate of most imported brands. For just the second time in the 30-year history of the study, domestic brands collectively had lower problem levels than all their import counterparts combined. All three U.S. domestic automakers posted year-over-year quality improvements.

The top overall scores came out as follows:

Kia topped the list, followed by Porsche, Hyundai, Toyota, BMW, and Chevrolet. Buick, Lincoln and Lexus tied for 7th place. Rounding out the top ten were Nissan and Ford with GMC and Infiniti tied for 10th place. Fiat and the smart car finished at the bottom of the latest survey.

“Manufacturers are currently making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “Tracking our data over the past several years, it has become clear that automakers are listening to the customer, identifying pain points and are focused on continuous improvement. Even as they add more content, including advanced technologies that have had a reputation for causing problems, overall quality continues to improve.”


Fiat Chrysler dealers will get a software package that it says will prevent 2014-15 Jeep Grand Cherokees from moving when the driver’s door is open and the shifter is not in Park. Automotive News reports owners will be notified to bring their Jeeps in for repair starting on Friday.

This follows the death of actor Anton Yelchin, of Star Trek fame, who was found pinned against a security gate at this California home by his 2015 Grand Cherokee. FCA is recalling 1.1 million vehicles with what consumers have said are confusing gear shifters that make it difficult to determine if the vehicle is in Park.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it is the first fatality it is aware of related to the safety defect and vehicle recall.

Auto News for June 22 – FCA to end Viper production

Dodge is celebrating the 25th anniversary and final year of Viper production with five exclusive limited-edition models, four of which are pictured here. (From left, the Viper Snakeskin Edition GTC, inspired by the original 2010 Snakeskin ACR; the Vooodoo II ACR, modeled after the original 2010 Viper VooDoo edition; the Viper GTS-R Commemorative Edition ACR, designed to pay tribute to one of the most distinguishable and iconic Viper paint schemes of all time – the white and blue combination of the 1998 Viper GTS-R GT2 Championship Edition;  and the Viper 1:28 ACR, which pays tribute to the current production car single lap record of 1:28.65 set by champion driver Randy Pobst in a 2016 Dodge Viper ACR at historic Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif., in October 2015. A fifth Dodge Dealer Edition Viper ACR, not shown, is available through select Dodge dealers.

Fiat Chrysler will end production of the very high performance Dodge Viper at the end of the 2017 model year. It will offer some specially trimmed low volume Vipers before the car enters the history books on its 25th anniversary. The Viper has been a slow seller for FCA.  Four of the five special editions are pictured.

As you know there has been a North American Car of the Year award at the Detroit Auto Show and a Truck of the Year award. Now Sport Utility Vehicles will get their own separate category at the show next January 9th. Until now SUV’s were lumped into the truck category.

Tesla announced it wants to acquire Solar City in a $2.8 billion stock deal. Tesla Chairman Elon Musk is the chief executive officer of both firms. The proposal has raised concerns among shareholders and Oppenheimer & Co. downgraded Tesla on the news over the question of corporate governance. A Credit Suisse Group analyst raised similar concerns. Musk said Tesla customers can drive clean cars but also need access to the most sustainable energy source available – the sun.


Auto News for June 21 – A Special Report

Auto News for June 21 – A Special Report

BMW collectable

Hagerty, that claims to be the “world’s leading insurance provider for classic car owners,” is out with a list of the ten collector vehicles with the highest levels of demand and momentum. A major trend these days is toward “modern classics” from the 1980s.The top ten are:

1986–1989 Mercedes-Benz 560SL – Many buyers remember the 560SL as an aspirational car that signaled early career success for their original owners, and the average sale price in the private market is up 22% over the last 12 months. 1987 560SLs start at $46,300.

1973–1986 Jeep CJ-7 – Jeep and off-roading have long been an American fascination and the CJ-7 remains very popular in 4×4 clubs. The special edition packages such as the “Limited” and “Jamboree Edition” are seeing the most interest, but any flavor can deliver open-air summer fun. Quoting activity has been particularly strong, with an increase of 120% over the past 12 months, indicating rising demand among enthusiasts. 1983 Jeep CJ-7 Laredos start at $12,900.

1973–1987 Chevrolet C/K Series Pickup – Pickups have been one of the fastest growing segments for the past five years. This is the first time this generation of Chevrolet pickup has outpaced the highly-sought-after 1967–1972 models. Ratings for this era of are being driven via the private sector, with a 9.5% increase in the number offered privately, an 11% rise in average sale price, and more than 38% selling privately doing so for amounts above their insured values. 1973 C10s start at $12,200.

1986–1992 BMW M3 – To many, the E30 M3 is the purest sports car from the 1980s. If this is a car you’ve always wanted you probably shouldn’t wait much longer as values are only going one direction. Up. Values published in Hagerty Price Guide have increased 86% over the last 8 months. 1990 M3s start at $76,100.

1982–1991 Porsche 944 – Whether younger buyers are priced out of the 911 market or just looking for something different than the norm, the 944 has recently gained a renewed following. Expect to see many nice low-mile examples come to market in the near future, with pristine Turbos selling for surprising amounts. Hagerty Price Guide values have increased 8% in value over the last 8 months. 1988 Porsche 944s start at $15,600.

1997–2002 Plymouth/Chrysler Prowler – Once described as a car better to be photographed next to, there is no denying the standout looks of one of the first modern retro cars.  Prowlers have been one of the hottest cars at auction over the last 12 months, with a 9% increase in the number offered, a 6% increase in average sale price, and a strong sell-through rate of 72% over the last 12 months. 2000 Plymouth Prowlers start at $32,000.

1966–1977 Ford Bronco – Today’s SUV-dominated car culture continues to love the simple utilitarian look of the first generation Bronco. Coupled with excellent reliability and parts availability, the Bronco makes for an excellent first-time collector vehicle. Activity in the private market has been particularly strong for these stylish SUVs. 1966 Ford Broncos start at $24,800.

1994–1999 Ferrari F355 – A true performance car with a fantastic engine sound and great looks. F355 price gains have lagged other Ferrari models over the past five years, which has suddenly made them relative bargains. Hagerty Price Guide values have increased 39% over the last 12 months. The cost of ownership on these cars can be high, though. So make sure to scrutinize service records. 1997 F355 Spiders start at $68,900.

1970–1974 Dodge Challenger – Early ’70s Mopar muscle cars have had the biggest swings in values going back to 2006. After being impacted by the recession they have recovered nicely, and Dodge fans are back to searching out as many “1 of 1” variations as they can find. Challengers have been performing very well at recent auctions, with cars offered up 17% and average sale price up 41% over the last 12 months. 1970 Challengers start at $36,200.

1968–1976 BMW 2002 – This iconic BMW remains very popular, especially on both coasts.  Similar to the other German cars mentioned in this list, Hagerty Price Guide values have been especially strong for 2002s, with an 18% gain over the last 8 months. 1974 2002 tii’s start at $26,800.

Don’t write off some of these selections! On a rather extraordinary test drive yesterday I saw 2 CJ7 Jeeps, a Porsche 944, (in rather touch shape,) a nicely restored red Bronco, and this area seems to be home to a lot of guys who have restored the Chevy pickups mentioned above.

Plus the BMW 2002 tii will always be in my Bucket List garage.


Auto News for June 220

Porsche captured this year’s 24 hours of LeMans race in France, its 18th overall win at the historic competition. But Toyota should have been the winner according to observers, leading with just three minutes of racing to go when the lead car’s engine malfunctioned and a 50-second advantage over the Porsche quickly evaporated. Another Toyota came in second followed by an Audi.

Alan Mulally, the man who kept Ford out of bankruptcy during the Great Recession has been formally inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame along with Ralph Nadar. Mulally, the former Boeing executive, did everything he could to keep the brand out of bankruptcy and free of a government bailout during the Great Recession. He did so by mortgaging every asset the Blue Oval had including the logo itself. Nadar, of course, was the author of “Unsafe at Any Speed,” the book that took umbrage with the Chevy Corvair, and is credited with starting the consumer protection movement.

Eleven international teams driving 100 percent electric cars arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, with the goal of driving around the world in 80 days. (Older reader’s minds will start humming the movie theme at this juncture.) They hope to conclude the drive back in Europe by the 4th of September after crossing a couple of oceans.

HOnda Ridgeline

Honda’s redesigned 2017 Ridgeline pickup arrives on dealer lots tomorrow. The Pilot based truck will carry a starting price of $29,475 on up to $31,275 for the RT with all-wheel drive. Here’s a nifty feature – the first available Truck Bed Audio system with available 400 watt in-bed power outlet.

We are less satisfied these days with our auto insurance firm if it is one of the 17 largest, according to a new report from J.D Power. Overall satisfaction is down 7 percent due to the “perception”, Power said, that the big firms have raised rates. Satisfaction with smaller insurers rose one percent this time around.