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Detroit, Asian Makers Score Big Sales Gains for July

If anything, automotive revival could be held back by supply shortages.

by on Aug.01, 2013

The 2013 Honda Civic had its best month ever in July, breaking a 13-year-old record.

As the U.S. auto industry continues to come roaring back from the worst recession in more than half a century, car sales appear to have surged to their highest July total since 2006, automakers reported Thursday.

If anything, supply shortages and new model delays could be the only thing holding the market back from an even bigger upturn, industry officials warned, Ford and Hyundai among the makers stretching the limits of their production capacity while Chrysler bangs away at problems with the new Jeep Cherokee model it hopes to launch next month.

There are few makers who didn’t score gains during July, with industry analysts estimating that overall year-over-year sales numbers will wind up at least 15% ahead once the last few manufacturers weigh in. Detroit makers all posted double-digit increases, as did the Japanese Big Three – though Nissan’s surge was tempered by a nearly one-third drop in sales by its Infiniti luxury brand.

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Why is the market continuing to heat up? Analysts point to a wide variety of factors including looser credit, a big surge in the housing market that is buoying demand for full-size pickups, growth in small car and hybrid sales as consumers prepare for future fuel price hikes and, perhaps most importantly, improving confidence in a slow-growing economy.


Mazda Looking to Bring Back Rotary Engine

Despite mileage challenges, rotary could reappear by 2017.

by on Aug.04, 2011

The rotary engine made the Mazda RX-7 a force to be reckoned with.

With the upcoming demise of the RX-8 sports car, a piece of Mazda’s history will vanish.  But a senior company engineer tells that the Japanese maker aims to bring back the rotary engine – in all-new form – shortly after mid-decade.

Formally known as the Wankel, the unusual powertrain helped put Mazda on the map when it first entered the American market four decades ago.  At the time, a large number of manufacturers were studying rotary engine applications.  But early problems with reliability and an ongoing issue with fuel economy led most makers to abandon the technology.

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Mazda, however, has maintained the rotary in its line-up because its small size and high performance fit the brand’s “zoom-zoom” image, said Kiyoshi Fujiwara, the Japanese maker’s global product design chief.