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AUTOMOTIVE NEWS (www.autonews.com) has been around since 1925. Originally Automotive Daily News based in New York City, it moved to Detroit in 1933 and by 1938 took the name we know today. Since 1971, AN has been part of Crain Communications, with Keith Crain in charge.
Its authoritative views on the auto business are respected around the world. An example of this appeared in AN’s January 5, 2015, issue which offers informative (and informed) views on the 41 makes of automobiles available in the U.S. (And isn’t it amazing that we have 41 automakers from which to choose?)
The article ran for 13 pages, with specifically non-automaker ads as a good example of separating church and state (something that’s not always the case in automotive publishing these days).
The entries cite debuts at Detroit’s North American International Automobile Show, other anticipated introductions in 2015, new personnel, 2014 market shares, trends of sales and, most interesting to me, summaries of challenges and strategies for meeting these challenges.
Every automaker had interesting tidbits. I share several here, with a few of my own comments.
Audi: “On a roll,” says AN. Audi’s NAIAS introduction of the redesigned Q7 reflects the strengths of this crossover segment, not as fuel-grizzly as an SUV and more sporty too. AN cites Audi’s principal challenge as maintaining momentum with its older nameplates, the A4, A6 and Q5.
I see the Q7 having spiritual kinship with my Honda Crosstour (alas, much maligned, but looking better as others catch on).
Ford: “Aiming to regain sales momentum.” AN notes Ford will have to “pitch a more nuanced story” about its aluminum-intensive F-150 full-size pickup truck.
I agree: The F-150 fell short of leading its EPA Fuel Economy category (the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel beat its numbers).
On the other hand, everyone is absolutely blown away by the Ford GT. It’s coming to dealerships in 2016—and maybe Le Mans?
Mazda: “The goal is to be the sporty Subaru,” says AN. There are lots of new products, with a freshened Mazda6 sedan and crossover CX-5, new CX-3 and, amid many opinions, most favorable, a new Miata.
As owner of an original Miata (no. 348), I see this one as encouraging a new crowd to discover what sports cars are all about. AN’s point about emulating Subaru loyalty is well taken. I’d say “seek Miata-like enthusiasm for the rest of its lineup.”
Scion: “Ah, fickle youth.” AN notes of this Toyota offspring, “Scion used to be totally down with young rebels,” which I translate for us gray-tops as “hip.” Sorry to say, its 2014 market share was 0.4 percent (Porsche’s was 0.3; Tesla, 0.2). What’s worse, the Scion sales trend is down across the board.
AN notes that Scion is “tracking a societal shift that has parents exerting more influence over their children’s life decisions, icky as that sounds.”
My view: If the kid is living in our basement, why shouldn’t I have a say on what he puts in the driveway?
Ferrari: “Twin turbos on V-8s; hybrid systems on V-12s.” The U.S. is Ferrari’s largest single market by far. Its new face is Sergio Marchionne, head of FCA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (and this still sounds odd to me, like Renault Nissan).
Ferrari becomes corporately independent in 2015. FCA, which currently owns 90 percent, is putting 10 percent in an Initial Public Offering and giving the remaining 80 percent free to FCA shareholders.
Needless to say, the Automotive News article offers a lot more information on all the automakers. Maybe you’d want to take some of that IPO cash and subscribe: www.autonews.com. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2015