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2014-07-09  DELAY IN SONATA NEXT GENERATION

New Hyundai Sonata Hybrid Delayed Until 2016 If you’re waiting for the next-generation Hyundai Sonata hybrid model to arrive at dealerships, you have a while to wait.

2014-07-09   2014 Kia Cars

This year Kia has introduced an all-new Forte in sedan, coupe and hatchback body styles. As well, the Soul is all-new and the Cadenza makes its way into the American marketplace. Kia currently also markets the subcompact Rio and mid-size Optima sedan. For those wanting a bit more space there is the Sorento and Sportage crossovers and the Sedona minivan. Kia started out selling the Sportage and Sephia sedan in 1994, but today their products are a far cry from the basic, cheap vehicles they began with. Borrowing heavily from parent company Hyundai, Kia’s vehicles are packed with modern technology, but have a distinctive look that is far from the more conservative styles employed by Hyundai.

2011-09-05  Small car sales rise to year high on economic worries

Small car sales rise to year high on economic worries   Small automobile sales rose to a year high in August boosted by rising fuel prices and concerns for a new worldwide economic downturn. According to industry data, 38,698 small vehicles were sold on the local market in August, accounting for 53.5 percent of passenger car sales. Small automobiles are defined as those whose engines are less than 2-liter displacement under local regulations. Last month’s figure is the year’s highest. While work on one of Hyundai Motor Co.’s assembly lines in August, which stopped production of the midsized sedan Sonata and the large sedan Grandeur for two weeks, is thought to have contributed to the rise in small car sales, the main factors are considered to be the rising fuel prices and worries over another economic downturn originating the U.S. Aided by the launch of two new models, small cars started the year with 52.9 percent market share in January. However, their share of the passenger car market remained below 50 percent, pushed down by larger models such as the latest version of the Hyundai Grandeur. Small cars’ monthly market share then went over the halfway line in June when worries over the effects of the U.S. economic woes began to take hold. The figure increased further in the following month, when Standard and Poor’s lowered the United States’ sovereign rating. With sales rising in the previous three months, small cars’ share of the domestic market for the first eight months of the year has risen to 50.9 percent, a level similar to that seen in 2009 when global economic woes had boosted small car sales. The country’s high fuel prices are also thought to be aiding the rise in small car sales. According to the Korea National Oil Corp.’s data, the price of standard gasoline per liter has gone from the 1,817.31 won ($1.70) recorded in the first week of January to 1,933.88 won in the final week of August.

2011-09-05  Sorento boosts Kia sales in U.S.

Kia Motors saw its sales exceed 300,000 units in the United States for the first eight months of this year, thanks to growing popularity of the crossover utility vehicle Sorento R. The automaker said Friday that it sold 41,188 vehicles in the U.S. market in August to post 331,796 units in sales this year, up 39.4 percent from the same period of 2010. The Sorento R was the most popular model of Kia Motors there with sales of 88,613 units between January and August. Kia recorded 50.2 percent year-on-year growth in Sorento R sales by selling 13,573 units in August. The Sorento R has been vying to be the bestselling car in the mid-sized CUV segment in the American market with Ford Motor’s Edge and Toyota’s RAV4. The company also enjoyed steady growth of other major models, posting sales of 6,885 units for the Soul, 6,677 units for the Forte and 6,157 units for the K5 (dubbed Optima in overseas markets). Kia’s affiliate Hyundai Motor reported 21 percent growth in sales between January and August compared to last year, with 439,824 units. In August, Hyundai’s sales inched up 9 percent from a year earlier with sales of 58,505 units. Hyundai and Kia recently captured about 15 percent of the U.S. automotive market.

2011-08-29  BMW expects Mercedes-Benz to start 2012 as top seller

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW, on a pace to become the top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S. this year, will probably be outsold by Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz early next year, a top executive said. Updated C-Class compact Mercedes models will go on sale later this year and probably make that brand the top seller in the first quarter while BMW is still selling older 3-Series models, said Jim O’Donnell, head of BMW U.S. operations. As a result, Mercedes may lead in deliveries for a few months, he said. “In the first quarter of next year, I would say Mercedes” will be No. 1, he said. “Mercedes going into 2012 in the first quarter will be in a strong position. Over the course of the year, we still should be ahead of Mercedes.” The new 3-Series, which reaches dealers in April, will help produce a BMW-brand increase of 12 percent to 15 percent next year, he said. The Munich-based automaker expects to be pursuing back-to-back years as the top luxury brand in the market. BMW’s U.S. sales rose 13 percent to 135,114 through July, placing it 5,182 vehicles ahead of Mercedes. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus brand deliveries fell 19 percent to 102,549 through July as the automaker copes with inventory constraints from the March earthquake and tsunami. Lexus has been the top- selling luxury brand in the U.S. for the past 11 years. The results exclude Daimler’s Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles. BMW is “on pace” to become the U.S.’s top selling luxury brand this year, said Ian Robertson, BMW’s top sales executive, told reporters today in Carmel, California. Slower growth Sales growth globally will probably be “slightly lower” in the second half of this year, he said, because of model changeovers and questions about worldwide economic stability. “I don’t think any of us can underestimate what’s happening on the economic front,” he said. “The word that we would use is that we are ‘cautious.’” BMW’s success this year has been driven by the redesigned midsize 5-Series line, introduced last year, and X3 sport- utility vehicle. The automaker delayed the introduction of the base 5-Series until this quarter as part of its effort to put a new four- cylinder engine in the vehicle, O’Donnell said. The all-wheel- drive version should further fuel BMW’s growth. Trailing goal While sales are up for BMW, the brand is about 3,000 short of its projected goal for the year so far, O’Donnell said. Shortages of the X3, X5 and all-wheel drive 3-Series and 5-Series cars have caused lost sales, he said. “Worldwide, the demand for all-wheel driving is increasing,” he said. “We’ve been surprised by the success, particularly in Europe, and we’re not getting the share that we anticipated, so we’re suffering.” O’Donnell, 61, is retiring from BMW this year as part of the company’s mandatory age-60 retirement program, he said. The brand’s sales in the U.S. are “reasonably” consistent, Robertson said. “We’re bringing models into the U.S. that are strong models right now,” he said today in an interview.

2011-08-26  Audi reveals ultra-light urban concept car

Ingolstadt, Germany (DPA) ― Audi has revealed an ultra-light concept car designed for congested urban areas combining what it says are elements of a racing car, a fun car and an urban car fitted intoa radical new idea. Orientated strictly on light weight construction the wheels are free-standing with surrounding protective plates featuring blinking strips of LED lights. High forward-urging lines give it a dynamic new design language. On board there is room for two people, with their position slightly staggered and at a sporty, low level. All controls and materials are subject to the dictates of ultra-light weight construction in order to ensure they convey “a completely unique,sensory allure,” according to Audi. The driver can adjust the steering wheel and pedals to his own body measurements. Entry to the car is via the tailgate. The roof is designed to be manoeuvrable and slides to the rear to open. The cockpit consists of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, which integrates the undercarriage of both seats. The Audi urban concept rolls on wheels with a 21-inch diameter. Power is provided by two e-tron electric motors with a lithium-ion battery supplying energy.

2011-08-26  Lexus readies new GS to win sales lost to BMW, Mercedes

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus, set to lose its position as the top-selling U.S. luxury car brand after 11 years, is revamping its line to regain sales lost to Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW. The 2013 Lexus GS 350 goes on sale in February with a new look, larger interior, and better handling and acceleration, Mark Templin, head of U.S. Lexus sales, said in a phone interview from Pebble Beach, California, after the sedan’s debut there yesterday. The car has a 306-horsepower V-6 engine, with optional “F Sport” high-performance and hybrid versions also due next year, he said. “It’s the first of many models that will change the game for Lexus,” Templin said. The new GS has sportier performance than past versions and “is leading us into a whole new territory,” he said. Toyota is struggling to restock U.S. Lexus dealers left short of inventory following Japan’s record earthquake and tsunami in March. That contributed to a 19 percent drop in sales for Lexus this year through July, putting it behind BMW and Mercedes. Lexus probably won’t be the top-selling luxury car brand in the U.S. this year, a position it held from 2000 to 2010, Templin has said. Deliveries of Lexus cars and light trucks in the U.S. totaled 102,549 so far this year. BMW’s sales rose 13 percent to 135,114 in the same period, and Mercedes rose 7.3 percent to 129,932, according to figures the companies reported this month. “Our vision is that Lexus becomes the best, not the biggest, the best, most innovative, progressive luxury brand that delights customers from all around the world,” Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s president and chief executive officer, said in a webcast speech from Pebble Beach. Including the GS, Lexus will release nine new or refreshed models in 2012, Toyoda said. The GS, a rear-wheel-drive model that competes with BMW’s 5-Series, “had to be improved much more,” Toyoda said. “It needed to be designed, engineered and manufactured without compromise,” he said. “I told our engineers that we are not moving ahead unless we do it right from the start.” Toyoda, the grandson of the company’s founder, said he is personally overseeing development Lexus models. While U.S. dealers aren’t yet fully restocked, they will have “really healthy inventory” in the final three months of 2011, Templin said. As a result of increased vehicle supplies and new models, “we expect 2012 to be a very good year,” he said, without elaborating. Lexus didn’t immediately provide pricing or volume goals for the GS. U.S. operations for Lexus are based in Torrance, California.

2011-08-18  The rise of diesel cars

Diesel-powered mid-sized sedans are growing ever more popular among a slew of new models launched this year. Diesel cars took up more than 30 percent of the import market share for the first time in July, Korea Auto Industries Corp. Association said. The economically cheaper option has been in high demand as oil prices continue to rise. Among the 60,523 imported cars sold here in the January-July period, diesel models took up 34.4 percent, or 20,741, up 9 percent from sales in the preceding half year. Gasoline-powered models now account for 62.3 percent of import market share. “Diesel powered models are proven to be cheaper and a more fuel-efficient. It has also become more popular in recent months because newer models came with less noise and improved driving,” a KAICA official said. Diesel prices averaged for April-July period stood at 1,767 won per liter, 167 won cheaper than that of gasoline, 1,935 won per liter, according to the Korea National Oil Corp. The difference is smaller compared with the figure from last year, 207 won, but the official said prospects for higher oil prices in the medium-term had more drivers turn to diesel-powered models. The most popular import car in July was diesel variant of BMW’s 502d. The latest 5 Series model of BMW lineup offers maximum performance at just 4.9 liters of fuel over 100 kilometers and a CO2-emission level of 129 g/km. “Our diesel models started to outsell our gasoline models. A total of 1,706 320d diesel cars were sold last year, almost double the number for 320d gasoline,” a BMW official said. “The trend has been clearer so far this year,” he added. The 520d and 320d of BMW, along with Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI diesel, CC 2.0 TDI Blue Motion diesel all made it into the top 10 most popular imported cars in the first half of this year. Customers now have a wider option to choose from. Audi Korea released diesel version of its flagship A4 2.0 TDI which uses just 4.8 liter per 100 kilometers, emitting 124 grams of CO2 per kilometer. BMW Korea released four new diesel types for its SUVs, including New X3 xDrive 30d, X3 XDrive 30d High, X5 xDrive 40d, and X6 xDrive 40d. Hyundai Motor Co., the biggest local carmaker, said it will launch diesel variant of the i40 wagon, sedan with 1.7 liter diesel engines. Diesel cars are the next big thing in other emerging markets as well. General Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Fiat in their Indian offices are pulling new diesel ranges by increasing plant capacities to meet the new demand for diesel cars. GM in July launched the diesel variant of its Chevrolet Beat in India and plans to introduce similar variants of Spark, Aveo UVA and Aveo sedan. “Diesel models cost a couple of thousand dollars more on average because of pricey components in them such as common rail systems, but its superior fuel efficiency makes it more attractive in the long run,” an official at Mercedes Benz Korea said.

2011-08-07  Import cars to grab 10% of Korean market by 2012

Foreign carmakers are expected to capture 10 percent of Korea’s automobile market in about a year after they saw the market share surpass 1 percent for the first time in 2002. Buoyed by active sales of smaller sized sedans among newcomers such as Peugeot and Honda Motor in early 2000s, import vehicles’ combined market share continued to grow to top 5 percent in 2007. A number of officials in the import vehicle industry predict the timing of their breaking the 10 percent level of the market will be the first half of next year. Several executives of foreign carmakers’ Korean units have reportedly forecast the timing would be as early as late 2011. Their market share in the local market is estimated to approach the 8 percent market during the first half of the year. They say that more and more customers want to buy an imported car but not just because it’s foreign or more expensive. “Korean cars are great now, but they believe there is too little choice and the price differences aren’t all that much these days anyway,” a dealer said. “In the past imported cars were more of a status symbol than they are now,” he said. “But they just want something that is different.” Over the past one year, foreign carmakers saw their combined market share in Korea climb by 1 percentage point. They captured 6.5 percent of the local market with sales of 42,700 vehicles between January and May, up from 5.5 percent with 34,318 units during the corresponding period of last year. In May, the foreign carmakers posted 6.8 percent market share by selling 8,777 units, according to the automotive industry. In particular, their monthly sales exceeded more than 10,000 vehicles for the first time in March, grabbing 7.1 percent of the market. Amid the robust import car sales over the past few years, the Korea Automotive Research Institute, has predicted that the nation’s import vehicle market is projected to undergo an overall expansion, with total sales surpassing 100,000 units this year. The KARI said sales of import vehicles were projected to soar by 12.1 percent on a year-on-year basis, crossing the 100,000 unit line for the first time. Last year, sales of imported vehicles in South Korea climbed to a record high, indicating a rapidly growing demand here for luxury vehicles, a local traders’ group said. A total of 90,562 imported vehicles were sold here in 2010, up 48.5 percent from a year earlier. Small vehicles with low engine displacement are expected to account for 50 percent of the total sales of import vehicles in South Korea as early as the third quarter. Notably, the ratio of cars with an engine capacity of less than 2.0 liters to the total number of cars sold came to 45.2 percent as of May. They sold 3,969 small-sized cars ― at low and medium priced ― out of the total 8,777 units last month, according to the Korean Automobile Importers and Distributors Association. Sales of the small-sized import cars have continued to increase over the past several months, posting noteworthy growth compared to 1,876 units (or 42.6 percent of the total sales) in April. A year ago, the ratio of small cars to the total import vehicles stayed at 26.1 percent. Dealers attribute Korean consumers’ active buying of small import cars to the recent trend that prices of some imported automobiles are as low as popular sedans of Korean carmakers. Some European sedans are also priced at a similar level to Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors’ luxury sedans such as Grandeur and K7. “As imported automobiles become increasingly commonplace in Korea, the market is shifting towards smaller, cheaper vehicles,” a foreign carmaker’s spokesman said. In addition to the shift toward smaller engine capacity and lower price ranges, younger motorists make up an increasingly large proportion of imported car buyers. According to industry data, about 40 percent of imported vehicles sold in May were bought by those in their 20s and 30s. Foreign cars were long considered extravagances and only for the rich and powerful. There were even rumors that owning one was cause enough to get a tax audit. Import car dealers predict that sales of imported cars priced under 50 million won will continue to increase in the coming years and push up the sales ratio of lower-price cars among imported automobiles.

2011-08-07  Toyota struggles with iQ as Kia’s Soul soars

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion brand, created in 2003 to attract young buyers with quirky cars and low prices, is trying to revive flagging sales with the tiny iQ. Scion is in need of a revival: Sales have fallen for four straight years, sliding 74 percent from a 2006 peak of 173,034. While deliveries of xB wagons, xD hatchbacks and tC coupes rose 27 percent in the first half, they totaled only 26,621, or less than half that of Kia Motors Corp. (000270) boxy Soul wagon at 54,987. “Part of Scion’s problem is some others have cut into their market, and the Kia Soul would be the best example,” said Jessica Caldwell, an analyst with Edmunds.com, a Santa Monica, California-based automotive pricing and data service. “In some ways, it’s a better version of xB than Scion’s.” Toyota, which sold more vehicles than any other automaker last year, relies on Scion to attract younger customers to dealerships that also sell the company’s namesake brand. The iQ, just 120.1 inches (305 cm) long, is two feet smaller than a Mini Cooper and may be the most efficient non-hybrid car on the road when it goes on sale in early 2012. Scion’s styling became more conventional when the xD replaced the original xA and the xB wagon was redesigned in 2007, said Caldwell. “The first xB was kind of funky and out there,” she said. With the redesign, “they Camry-ed it, made it a bit mainstream.” For El Paso, Texas, real-estate agent Rick Chumsae, who owns an original xB and an xA, the brand strayed from its roots. “They both look a little funkier than what’s out there now, particularly the xB,” Chumsae said of his cars. “In their quirkiness, they’re kind of timeless.” When Scion began, “it wasn’t like we set out to be weird just to be weird,” Jack Hollis, Scion’s brand manager, said in a July 13 interview in San Francisco. The target was both buyers in their 20s, as well as “youthful” older drivers, he said. With that in mind, Scion is adding the iQ, already sold in Japan and Europe, in California in October, and across the U.S. early next year. The tiny model seats four and is intended as a niche model for urban commuters, said Hollis, who declined to provide an annual sales target. Base price for an iQ is $15,995. Adding a navigation and high-end audio system, steel wheels and other accessories won’t push the price above $20,000, said Craig Taguchi, a spokesman.

2011-08-03  Demand for hybrid sedans rising

Hyundai Motor and Kia Motor are posting a rapid growth in sales of hybrid sedans at home, following outstanding performances in the U.S. market. In July, about 15 percent of Hyundai-Kia’s customers who purchased the automakers’ Sonata and K5 picked the hybrid version of the sedans, Hyundai Motor Group said Tuesday. Their total sales of the Sonata and K5 came to 7,772 and 7,051 units last month. Among them, hybrid models accounted for 19.3 percent (1,500 units) and 10.3 percent (729 units). Hyundai-Kia officials say more and more consumers are expressing their interest in the higher fuel efficiency and engine power of the hybrid models. “We will be able to attain our initial goal of selling 11,000 Sonata hybrids and 6,000 K5 hybrids this year,” a company spokesman said. Though the average price tag of the hybrids is higher by about 3 million won ($2,850) than that of ordinary gasoline models, consumers benefit from fuel efficiency of 21 kilometers per liter. “This could make up for the higher purchasing cost of 3 million won if customers drive about 20,000 kilometers for the first five years,” he said. According to Hyundai Motor Group, the lithium ion polymer battery pack used in the Sonata and K5 hybrids has 63 percent higher power density and 13 percent higher energy density than nickel-hydrogen batteries used in other hybrid cars available on the market. Power density refers to the efficiency of power transfer, while energy density indicates the amount of energy that can be stored within a given volume of battery. In addition, the lithium ion polymer battery pack is 25 percent lighter than conventional batteries used in hybrid electric vehicles, allowing higher fuel efficiency. The Hyundai Sonata and Kia K5 hybrid vehicles are fitted with six-speed automatic transmission developed specifically for hybrid electric vehicles. Along with such features, Hyundai and Kia have given their first gasoline-electric hybrid cars the latest interior features including a 4.2-inch color TFT-LCD supervision cluster. The Korean carmakers have rolled out compact sedan Avante and Forte hybrids, but demand has not been so strong. In the U.S., Hyundai Motor has the goal of overtaking Toyota Motor in sales of hybrid sedans. The Sonata hybrid has ranked second following the Japanese carmaker’s Prius hybrid. The sales gap is still wide. The Sonata’s sales reached 1,422 units in June compared to 4,340 units for the Prius, which has already dominated the global hybrid vehicle market. But what is noteworthy is that the newcomer Sonata hybrid outpaced other hybrid models such as Toyota’s Camry, Honda’s Insight, Honda’s CR-Z and Ford Motor’s Fusion. Company spokespeople say that Hyundai and Kia have been focused on promotion of “100-percent independent” technologies of the affiliated automakers applied to development of the hybrid Sonata and K5.

2011-08-03  Hyundai going green in U.S. to stay in black

Hyundai Motor Group will begin foregrounding its new hybrid models to fortify its position in an increasingly environmentally conscious U.S. market, according to the company’s chairman. Chung Mong-koo announced the reformatted strategy after he returned from a recent business trip to the U.S., which is continuously tightening up its fuel efficiency standards. Sales figures from the latest gas-saving models produced by the nation’s largest automaker suggest the campaign has already got off to a roaring start. Its Sonata Hybrid sold 1,780 units in the U.S. market last month, up 20 percent from June to stay one step ahead of rivals such as the Honda Insight and Ford Fusion. However it was the K5 Hybrid, which is sold under the name Optima Hybrid in the U.S., that saw sales rocket by almost 300 percent to 300 units last month. Hyundai officials cited research into U.S. consumers’ needs as the main reason for their success, as it showed them that individual buyers prefer larger vehicles while companies go for midsize hybrids rather than the compacts that are now flooding the market. The company also manages to stay one step ahead in terms of its cars’ average fuel efficiency, which now stands at 35.7 miles per gallon - 0.2 miles more than the U.S. standard set for 2016. “Since Hyundai and Kia both have a high fuel efficiency lineup, including the new hybrid models, we have the upper hand in terms of handling the new efficiency standards in the U.S.,” said one Hyundai Motor Group official. “Things are looking up, as our Sonata and K5 hybrid models are tracing positive sales curves,” he added.

2011-07-22  Electric cars about to cost more in California

Electric cars about to cost more in California The state has run out of the $5,000 rebates it was giving drivers who bought all-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster. Also, prices for the Nissan Leaf are going up. A 2011 Nissan Leaf is displayed in May at a Transportation Department news conference on fuel-economy labeling. (Alex Wong, Getty Images / July 21, 2011) ShareComments 37Also Volvo automatic brakes could reduce car crashes OnStar rearview mirror for non-GM vehicles will go on sale Hyundai is rated No. 1 in brand loyalty By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times July 21, 2011 It\'s going to cost more to buy electric cars in California. The state has run out of the $5,000 rebates it was giving people who purchased all-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster. That\'s on top of a price increase for the Nissan Leaf. The automaker said this week that it would raise the price of the base model when the 2012 cars come out this fall by $2,420 to $36,050, including destination charge. The higher-trim-level Leaf SL will go up $3,530 to $38,100, including destination charge. But there could be some relief for those who were on the waiting list for the $5,000 rebate. The state\'s Air Resources Board on Thursday will consider a recommendation to provide rebates of $2,500 to about 500 people who have already purchased cars and who were on the waiting list. The vote would provide additional funds for about 5,500 rebates — also $2,500 — for electric cars and some other types of zero-emission vehicles such as the hydrogen vehicles that some automakers offer through experimental lease programs, said Mary Fricke, spokeswoman for the Air Resources Board. None of this affects the $7,500 federal tax credit used to spur sales of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, such as the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt doesn\'t qualify for the state rebate, though emission-control upgrades to the vehicles expected sometime next year could put it on the list. The rebates are intended to promote the production and use of zero-emission vehicles, known as ZEVs, which include electric, plug-in hybrid electric and fuel-cell vehicles. \"The government is saying that if you are an early adopter, be prepared to pay for it,\" said Jesse Toprak, an analyst at auto information website TrueCar. He said there\'s enough demand for electric vehicles to absorb some price increases and shrinking rebates, at least for the next year or so. It\'s not a surprise that the California rebates are shrinking, said Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Assn. \"The California rebate already has been a particularly generous incentive,\" Wynne said. Though incentives are helpful to increasing sales, the electric-car industry has to get to the point where its vehicles are competitive with traditional internal-combustion-engine cars, he said. That will require production in greater volume and price decreases for batteries and other components. Nonfinancial incentives, such as carpool-lane permits for electric vehicles, can be just as important to increase sales as dollars from the government, especially in regions such as California that are known for traffic congestion, Wynne said. The number of electric-car offerings is about to grow. Other automakers have battery-electric and plug-in offerings set to hit dealerships in the next 18 months, including the Mitsubishi iMiEV, the Ford Focus Electric, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, the Toyota RAV4 electric, the Honda Fit EV and a plug-in hybrid version of the Honda Fit. As for the Nissan Leaf, the automaker said it was making some changes as part of its price increase. It is adding cold-weather features such as a battery warmer, a heated steering wheel and heated front and back seats to both trim levels. The SL model also gets a fast-charging port that works with a 480-volt outlet to charge the car in 30 minutes, compared with eight hours using a 220-volt outlet. Previously, that was a $700 option. Nissan also is gearing up Leaf production. It is investing about $1.7 billion — mostly from federal Department of Energy loans — in an electric-car battery factory and other upgrades at its massive factory complex in Smyrna, Tenn. It plans to start building the batteries and cars at the factory by the end of 2012. On Wednesday, Nissan said it would produce the electric motor for the Leaf starting in early 2013 at its Decherd, Tenn., powertrain assembly plant. The factory will add about 90 jobs and will have the capacity to produce up to 150,000 electric motors annually for the Leaf, which will be built in Smyrna. Nissan has sold 4,134 of the battery-powered electric cars this year. General Motors Co.\'s Chevrolet, by comparison, has sold 2,745 of its Volt car, which is technically a plug-in hybrid because it runs on electricity for about 40 miles before a gasoline-fueled generator kicks in to extend the vehicle\'s range. Chevrolet also is ramping up Volt production. jerry.hirsch@latimes.com Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

2011-07-05  BMW widens sales of luxury cars in U.S.

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW brand outsold Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz last month, expanding its lead as the top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S. so far this year. BMW’s U.S. sales, helped by deliveries of the new 5 Series sedan and sport-utility vehicles, rose 13 percent last month to 21,637 compared with a year earlier, the Munich-based automaker said yesterday in a statement. Mercedes sales rose 13 percent to 20,652 in June while deliveries by Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Lexus fell 38 percent to 10,773, as the Japanese make lacked inventory following the March 11 earthquake that disrupted manufacturing. After six months of sales, BMW looks poised to outsell Lexus in the U.S. for a calendar year for the first time since 1997. BMW’s sales through June rose 13 percent to 113,705. Deliveries of Stuttgart, Germany-based Mercedes vehicles rose 7 percent to 110,926 in the U.S. while Lexus’s fell 18 percent to 88,010. Lexus has been the top-selling luxury auto brand in the U.S. on an annual basis for the past 11 years. “They’re too far behind now to catch up,” Jim O’Donnell, head of BMW’s U.S. operations, said Friday of Lexus in a telephone interview. Last year, Toyota finished 9,216 sales ahead of BMW to be the top selling luxury brand in the U.S. for the 11th straight year. Mercedes finished in third place. The results exclude Daimler’s Sprinter vans and Smart cars and BMW’s Mini brand, which aren’t luxury vehicles. German duel The German brands have duked it out for years in the U.S. market. BMW has outsold Mercedes since 2001. The narrowest lead came in 1997 when BMW delivered 202 more vehicles than Mercedes did, according to researcher Autodata Corp. “There is very good momentum” for BMW, said Jesse Toprak, an industry analyst with Truecar.com, a Santa Monica, California-based website that tracks automotive sales. “I don’t know if Benz will be able to catch up.” O’Donnell expects the brand’s sales to increase 12.5 percent this year, helped by a redesigned 5 Series sedan and X3 sport-utility vehicle, he said. BMW’s sales in the second half of the year will benefit from the introduction of another all-wheel-drive version of the 5 Series, the 528i xDrive, he said. “That used to account for 25 percent of our 5 Series sales, so that will be a big lift for us in the last quarter,” O’Donnell said. New Mercedes Mercedes deliveries last month were helped by the redesigned E-Class, sales of which rose 19 percent, and M-Class, up 45 percent, the company said. An updated version of the C-Class will be introduced in September further boosting sales, Ernst Lieb, head of Mercedes’ U.S. unit, said yesterday in a telephone interview. “We get full availability really in the last quarter and we think it’s going to be really good sales for us,” he said. General Motors Co.’s Cadillac luxury brand sales fell 7.9 percent last month to 10,860, according to the Detroit based automaker. It was the second time this year that more Cadillacs were sold in the U.S. than Lexus vehicles. BMW and Mercedes will probably be aggressive with incentives in coming months, Kurt McNeil, Cadillac’s vice president of sales, said. “They’ll get real creative,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview. Lacking adventure Beyond Toyota’s production problems, Lexus may be struggling to attract affluent shoppers whose tastes have shifted following the recession toward brands that express creativity and originality, said Andrew Sacks, president of the Affluence Collaborative, a market-research firm based in New York City. Lexus “is very middle of the road, it’s kind of bland, it’s safe,” he said yesterday in a telephone interview. “It’s still hard to justify what’s still a good bit of money that’s not a thrilling adventure.” U.S. deliveries of Volkswagen AG’s Audi brand rose 17 percent to 10,051 vehicles last month, the Wolfsburg, Germany- based company said in a statement. Porsche SE, the Stuttgart-based automaker merging with Volkswagen, sold 2,546 vehicles in the U.S., a 19 percent increase, the company said on Friday in an e-mail. Nissan Motor Co.’s Infiniti sold almost 6,300 vehicles, a 24 percent decline from a year earlier, the Yokohama, Japan- based company said in a statement. Honda Motor Co., based in Tokyo, said in a statement that sales for its Acura brand fell 20 percent to 8,708 last month. Ford Motor Co. sold 7,361 Lincoln luxury vehicles in June, a 17 percent increase from a year earlier, according to a statement from the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker. Land Rover deliveries rose 13 percent to 3,152, while Jaguar sales fell 14 percent to 1,389, Mumbai-based Tata Motors Ltd. said in an e-mailed statement. (Bloomberg)

2010-07-17  Autostock Japan Beta Version 1

SENDA JAPAN, has released Beta Version of AutoStockJapan, Please feel free to contact us with your feedback

2010-04-20  Toyota and Mazda agree to share Hybrid technology

Consumers will find a bit of Toyota at Mazda dealerships by 2013. Mazda will become the second manufacturer, after Nissan, to borrow Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive technology as part of a licensing agreement aimed at leap frogging hybrids into Mazda’s stable beyond the lonely Mazda Tribute SUV. The deal’s details have yet to be released but Toyota’s key hybrid drive components are expected to make the cross over to Mazda’s recently announced, next-generation, direct-injected Sky engines. Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and Mazda Motor Corporation (Mazda) have reached an agreement on the supply under license of hybrid technology used in the Toyota Prius. Leveraging this agreement, Mazda plans to combine the hybrid system with its next-generation SKY* engine that is currently under development, and develop and manufacture a hybrid vehicle in Japan. Mazda is aiming to commence sales of a hybrid vehicle starting in Japan by 2013. Positioning response to environmental issues as a management priority, TMC began sales of the Prius, the world’s first mass production hybrid vehicle, in 1997. Since then, over 2.3 million TMC produced hybrid vehicles have been delivered to customers in over 70 countries and regions. TMC recognizes the importance of benefiting the environment by encouraging the popularization of its eco-friendly technologies, which are represented by its hybrid systems. Accordingly, TMC has announced that it will consider requests from other companies to supply hybrid technology. Based on its long-term vision for technology development, sustainable Zoom-Zoom, Mazda aims to increase the average fuel economy of Mazda vehicles sold globally 30 percent by 2015, compared to its 2008 level. In order to offer all of its customers driving pleasure as well as outstanding eco-friendly and safety performance, Mazda is implementing a Building Block Strategy. Under this strategy, Mazda will enhance the core aspects of its vehicles - including engines, transmissions and weight reduction - and then progressively add electric devices such as idling stop, regenerative braking and hybrid systems. Through this partnership, each company intends to offer technologies and products with outstanding environmental benefits to as many people as possible. *Concept name for engines and transmissions that are intended for launch from 2011 onward.

2010-04-20  Suzuki ties knot with Volkswagen

Osamu Suzuki, chairman and CEO of Suzuki Motor Corp. and Martin Winterkorn, from Volkswagen AG, have agreed \"to establish a close long-term strategic partnership\" with each other. A framework agreement has been signed by representatives of both companies

2010-04-20  Toyota launches all-new 2010 Land Cruiser Prado

The new Land Cruiser Prado, a mid-size, authentic four-wheel drive vehicle, continues the tradition of the Land Cruiser brand that is esteemed in more than 170 countries and regions around the world. The fourth generation maintains the outstanding drivability, reliability and basic functionality of the earlier generations, even under the harshest driving conditions, while improving on the on-road and off-road performance that is the Prado’s claim to fame. Specific improvements include a roomier cabin through increased space between the front and second-row seats, while enhancements to the time-tested full frame structure and higher body rigidity make the ride even more comfortable. In addition, the adoption of a Kinetic Dynamic Suspension System (KDSS) allows for driving stability at city and highway speeds, and a “crawl control” feature enhances rough-road compatibility. Other off-road driver-support features include a Multi-terrain Select switch to control drive power and braking in line with the off-road environment and the world’s first Multi-terrain Monitor, which displays the road conditions around the vehicle taken by four onboard cameras.

2010-04-20  Toyota recalls SUVs, agrees to fine

Toyota has agreed to a record $16.4 million fine for its slow response to sticking gas pedals -- the equivalent of a little more than $2 for every vehicle the company sold around the globe in 2009. But the fine, the maximum under the law, could be simply a down payment in the long run. The Japanese auto giant still faces dozens of private lawsuits, which have been combined before a federal judge in Santa Ana, California.Rushing to address new safety concerns, Toyota said it would recall all 9,400 of the 2010 Lexus GX 460s that went on sale in late December, 5,600 that have been sold and 3,800 still at dealers or elsewhere in the distribution pipeline. The announcement came less than a week after Consumer Reports issued a warning about the SUVs, a sharp contrast to the government\\\\\\\'s contention that Toyota took four months to order its huge recall of other models over sticking gas pedals. For the Lexus recall, Toyota said dealers would update software in the stability control system, which is supposed to help prevent rollovers. Toyota already had halted sales of new GX 460s and began tests on all of the company\\\\\\\'s other SUVs. The government accused the company of hiding the earlier defects involving gas pedals, a contention Toyota rejected though it agreed to pay the fine. Toyota said it agreed to the fine to avoid a lengthy legal battle but denied the government\\\\\\\'s allegation that it broke the law. In a statement, Toyota acknowledged \\\\\\\"that we could have done a better job of sharing relevant information within our global operations and outside the company, but we did not try to hide a defect to avoid dealing with a safety problem.\\\\\\\"