Due to tepid demand within the U.S. small car market Ford Motor Company recently announced their Focus compact would cease production at its Michigan Assembly Plant in 2018. With the factory suffering from underutilization, the Blue Oval may possibly move future production to another country. Formal labor talks are scheduled to commence between the automaker and the United Auto Workers union on July 23, yet there is speculation the announcement is merely a negotiating tactic employed by Ford to improve its bargaining position. Time will tell whether the announcement is a legitimate factor or not, but a look into the Focus’ manufacturing and market performance suggests the company has concerns ― especially with regards to opportunity cost ― when deciding to produce its compact car in the United States or elsewhere.
With the debut of its fifth-generation Explorer for the 2011 model year, Ford made tremendous strides improving its renowned SUV. Customers were quick to take notice as nearly 82,000 more registrations were achieved in 2011 versus the previous year (+182%). The Explorer went on to perform better each year thereafter with just under 211,000 vehicles registered last year. Ford is now number one in the segment ahead of models such as the Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and GMC Acadia. However, with the reveal of the 2016 refresh at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford has shown it’s eager for even greater success over the years to come.
Back in the mid-2000s when the Sony PlayStation 2 was around, a strangely fascinating and critically-acclaimed video game surfaced from the Land of the Rising Sun by the name of Katamari Damacy. In the third-person puzzle-action game, the god-like King of All Cosmos accidentally removes all the stars from the sky and tasks his diminutively-sized son, the Prince, to go to Earth and help rectify the situation. Equipped with a rolling katamari – a magical ball that causes anything smaller than it to stick to it – the Prince is charged with amassing sufficient material to recreate the stars and constellations.
Every year, the Washington Auto Show, also known as the nation’s “Public Policy Show,” holds a number of events that focus on the policies and developments influencing the direction of the automotive industry in America. As the health of the environment plays an ever more prominent role in the determining of emissions standards and related government regulations, green vehicles and technologies are becoming increasingly recognized for their positive impact on society. Consequently, the Green Car Journal holds its annual Green Car Awards program at the D.C. Auto Show to celebrate automobiles that best epitomize environmental performance.
While driving an environmentally-friendly car certainly has its merits, the question remains whether purchasing one makes for a sound financial decision. Knowing that money doesn’t grow on trees, we analyzed the second-hand market performance for the award nominees to help environmentally-conscious buyers identify the winners and losers in green car value retention.
At the 2015 Chicago Auto Show, General Motors debuted a refresh of its Chevrolet Equinox, the highest volume Chevrolet model—excluding the Silverado pickup truck. Consumers looking for major changes will be disappointed, as the mid-cycle update is more of an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” refresh. However, the brand is hoping it mixed things up enough this time around to keep the model fresh over the coming years.
For 2016, the refreshed RDX received more technology, an improved powertrain and enhanced interior treatments. By adding optional fog lights as well as new LED headlights, the updated lighting design keeps with the illumination scheme seen on the rest of the brand’s lineup. Powertrain improvements include a 3.5-liter V6 engine producing 279 horsepower and 252 lb-ft of torque. Engineers were able to raise the fuel economy of the RDX by utilizing cylinder deactivation technology. The 2016 front-wheel drive model is capable of achieving 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway. All-wheel drive versions see one mpg less in both city and highway driving.
Focusing more on the interests of the mainstream buyer, the Chicago Auto Show is the preeminent consumer event of the auto show season. Consequently, automakers were keen on showcasing products that are most impactful for everyday consumers. Crossovers and SUVs from Honda, Acura and Chevrolet stood out from the pack, while concept vehicles from Kia and Mitsubishi hinted at what may be to come in their utility vehicle lineups. Of course, the stars of the recent major auto shows in Los Angeles and Detroit came in full force as well, and we were sure to get another look at some of the most exciting models.
While not the flashiest auto show, Chicago plays an important role for consumers and we were sure to capture the event for you through the digital lens. Be sure to check out our Facebook photo album and Twitter feed to revisit all that transpired.
Arguably the most anticipated press conference in Chicago, Honda took center stage and showcased its all-new Pilot. Last redesigned in 2009, the current boxy look of Honda’s SUV fell behind the style trend as competing crossovers moved toward more fluid, sleeker design language. Shifting sales within the segment reflected consumer affinity for less utilitarian styling, with Pilot deliveries falling by 14 percent year-over-year in 2014, while the industry exhibited 6 percent growth. For a model that realized 1.4 million sales in North America since its 2002 introduction, its recent performance has been uncharacteristic of a vehicle that has contributed to roughly 25% of Honda’s light truck deliveries over the past dozen years.
For Honda, the focus on advanced engineering doesn’t apply to just cars. The company has deep roots in the motorcycle industry as well, which includes participating in the top racing series in the world, MotoGP.
For the last two years, the number one spot on the championship podium has gone to the Repsol Honda team and its rider, Marc Marquez. The winning man rode Honda’s RC213V bike to victory in 13 of 18 races last season, breaking the record set during the 1997 500cc World Championship by former Repsol Honda rider, Mick Doohan. As a result, motorcycle consumers are treated with several trickle-down technologies created for the track via the RC213V-S Prototype. For simplicity’s sake, the superbike is the equivalent of a street-legal F1 car.
Just as it had with the Acura flagship NSX, Honda applied many of its strengths in powertrain innovation, hybrid systems, super-handling technology and advanced body construction to create the Honda FCV Concept―a car that encompasses over 25 years of the automaker’s expertise in developing fuel cell technology. Making its North American debut in Detroit, the successor to the 4-passenger FCX Clarity is slated for the U.S. consumption in 2016. The vehicle contains a 33 percent smaller fuel cell stack, along with a 60 percent improvement in power density. Consequently, the upgrade translates into an estimated driving range of more than 300 miles, while increasing interior space to accommodate five passengers. With a refueling time of about three minutes, the advanced fuel cell vehicle aims to be more livable for American drivers than ever before.