Joseph Choi's Articles

FJ Cruiser Heading toward Strong Finish to its Product Lifecycle

Since its introduction in 2006, the FJ Cruiser has been Toyota’s version of a fun, rugged, retro-styled SUV, paying homage to the original Toyota FJ40 Land Cruisers that first appeared in the 1960’s. After several years in production, however, the FJ Cruiser will be discontinued after the 2014 model year, leaving the niche off-road segment solely to the hot-selling Jeep Wrangler. Nevertheless, the Toyota SUV is not going away quietly with sales trending upward in its final year on sale to match its strong value retention. While Toyota no longer sells over 55,000 units of ...

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Americans Hit the Road Again this July 4th Weekend

  In the heart of summer takes place arguably the most American of all holidays, Independence Day. With students now on break from school, many Americans will take advantage of the July 4th weekend to travel and most will do it by means of our nation’s highways. As Americans have increased their tolerance for spending in recent years, it is interesting to see how 2014 compares to years past and what has changed among people’s travel preferences. By analyzing trends in factors such as consumer spending and gas prices, we can get a better sense of how travel during one of ...

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Mitsubishi’s New Sales Growth Continues, but Retention Lags

Though its sales and market share have been in decline since the early 2000’s, Mitsubishi once carried a robust lineup in the United States that included such iconic cars as the now discontinued Eclipse and 3000GT. With much of its sport and rally heritage left in its past, save for the Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi is very much a shell of what it once was as the brand looks to create a new path toward prosperity. After trimming its product portfolio down, the only models currently offered by the Japanese automaker in America are the Lancer, which includes the Sportback and Evolution, ...

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The New Lincoln MKC Perhaps the Brand’s Best Effort Yet

Over the past several years, Ford Motor Company has made tremendous strides in transforming its business from one plagued with financial instability and uncertainty to one of record profits. At the center of the turnaround effort was the Ford brand, which underwent a product overhaul as part of its “One Ford” plan. Changes to Ford’s corporate culture led to achievements including the reduction of the number of its global platforms and the development of the company’s acclaimed EcoBoost engines, both of which helped set the foundation for the Blue Oval’s future ...

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The New Acura RLX’s Value Exceeds its Tepid Sales

Honda has long been known for its attention to detail, which is reflected by the high build quality and reliability of its products. Consequently, Acura models have exemplified many of the same endearing characteristics that have made Honda a valued brand in driveways across America. The challenge until now has been elevating the Acura brand’s status as a luxury marque to one on par with European makes and its Japanese rival, Lexus. With the recent launch of the RLX sedan last year, the company was hoping its new model would chart a different course for Acura. After a year on sale, h ...

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The Kia K900 is a Great Deal for the Self-Made Professional

Since coming to American shores two decades ago, Kia Motor America has done much to raise the profile of its brand. However, the K900 is particularly significant in that it symbolizes a coming-out party for the Korean automaker, forging higher into luxury territory and further raising the bar for itself. When seeing the vehicle in person, one would be hard-pressed to find anything non-premium and taking a seat inside conjures a sense of comfort typically reserved for social elites. What makes the K900 special, however, is that it is representative of the type of people who come from humble ...

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Subaru’s New Business Plan Sets the Stage for Future Success

After achieving unprecedented sales growth that resulted in record earnings and production capacity constraints, parent company Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Subaru’s largest shareholder, Toyota, began mulling last August whether to have Subaru compete on a larger scale with higher volumes or maintain its niche status and greater profit margins. At that time, I wrote a blog post covering Subaru’s upward trajectory during the past decade, along with the dilemma it faced, and nine months later the company revealed its ambitions for the next several years in presenting its new bu ...

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Third-Generation Nissan Murano has Great Potential yet Much to Prove

The early part of the last decade saw the emergence of crossover utility vehicles, which combined many popular characteristics of SUVs with the superior handling and fuel economy of station wagons. Nissan’s initial foray into the segment was marked by the Murano, which first went on sales in late 2002 and was subsequently nominated for the 2003 North American Truck of the Year award. Nissan began selling its second-generation Murano in January 2008 – which also came in convertible form starting in 2011 as the Murano CrossCabriolet – but by then, many other crossover of ...

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Mazda Looks to Capitalize on Recent Success with New Opportunities

Over the past several years, Mazda Motors has been on a roller coaster ride that has seen it go from a financial state of perennial losses to one of record profits, with many factors playing a part in the company’s turnaround. Being the small automaker that it is, Mazda lacks deep pockets to reach into during difficult times and doesn’t enjoy the same level of financial stability as its larger Japanese counterparts, which has made for an uncertain future at times. With its solid track record as a technological innovator and a little bit of good fortune, however, the automaker i ...

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Hyundai Shifts into High Gear with its Second-Generation Genesis Sedan

For much of its history, Hyundai was known as a manufacturer of cheap, uninspired vehicles that were widely underappreciated by much of the automotive community. However, the winds of change arrived at the 2007 New York International Auto Show when the brand revealed its Concept Genesis Premium Sports Sedan. The concept would prove to be a preview of the all-new Genesis sedan, which went on sale in the United States in June 2008 and extended the brand’s reach into luxury territory with premium packaging that included company firsts, such as a rear-wheel drive setup and optional 4.6-l ...

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