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April Sales Soar

But there are a few setbacks.

by on May.01, 2012

While the Nissan brand slipped in April, its Infiniti luxury brand gained on demand for the new JX crossover.

While several major makers have yet to weigh in, preliminary numbers confirm that the U.S. new car market continued gaining momentum in April – though there were a few setbacks, notably for the two largest of the domestic makers.

But it is likely to wrap up as another month of record-setting sales for at least some makers, including Volkswagen of America, which enjoyed its best April in more than 40 years. Chrysler, meanwhile, posted yet another a double-digit sales increase. Preliminary numbers for Japanese makers are mixed, Nissan reporting a rare down month while Toyota, still recovering from last year’s shortages, reported an 11.6% gain for the month.

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But both Ford Motor Co. and General Motors posted sales declines as the automakers reduced fleet sales. Despite the setback, however, GM raised its full-year light vehicle sales forecast to the range of 14.0 million to 14.5 million units from earlier estimates of 13.5 million to 14 million units.  A growing number of industry analysts now believe 2012 could wrap up with sales in the low to mid-14 million range.


Americans Keeping Cars Longer Than Ever

But that could depress new car sales.

by on Feb.21, 2012

Gotta make the old jalopy run just a little bit longer.

Credit better quality – or blame a bad economy, if you prefer – what’s hard to disagree with is that Americans are keeping their cars longer, according to a new report by automotive research firm R.L. Polk.

The typical owner will hold onto their new car, truck or crossover for just less than six years, according to the report.  For those who purchased a previously-owned vehicle, the typical length of ownership is just over four years.  That works out to an average, for both new and used vehicles, of 57 months, a figure that has increased 23% since the third quarter of 2008.

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On the downside, longer ownership cycles translate into fewer cars sold.  The flipside is that this could be translating into a significant bubble of pent-up demand that could fuel a surge in sales over the next several years.  Indeed, dealers suggest they’ve already begun seeing many buyers return to their showrooms in recent months as the economy has begun to improve.


BMW Reveals New High-Performance Diesel Line

New M550d matches M5 off the line with 50% better mileage.

by on Jan.26, 2012

The new BMW M550d diesel will all but match the performance of the vaunted M5 gas model - but yield 50% better mileage.

Confirming a report first posted by last summer, BMW will introduce an all-new line-up of high-performance diesel cars, including the new triple-turbo M550d that will all but match the off-the-line performance of the Bavarian maker’s celebrated, gas-powered M5.

The new diesel performance cars will debut later this year for sale through the company’s new M Performance brand.

The M-badged diesels will be officially introduced at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show and underscore the significant transformation of diesel power in recent years.

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As BMW highlights in a recent series of commercials, diesel technology is no longer something buyers must suffer through as a trade-off for good mileage. But the fact that the new models could be some of the highest performers in the BMW line-up may nonetheless take potential customers by surprise.


Elaine Bannon: A Woman On The Leading Edge

Revealing secrets at Ford.

by on Jul.06, 2010

As chief engineer on the Ford Edge, Elaine Bannon is hoping for another hit.

Elaine Bannon has a secret she’d rather not keep.

Bannon is a glamorous 48-year-old mechanical engineer and MBA whose job it is to produce winners for Ford Motor Company, including the Ford Edge, Ford Flex, Lincoln MKX and Lincoln MKT – in fact, all of Ford’s crossover utilities.

One of the industry’s best-kept secrets is that Edge is the best-selling vehicle in its market segment, and has been almost from the minute it was introduced in 2006 as a 2007 model.

As chief engineer for these four vehicles, Bannon brings to the job her vast experience in body engineering, body design, chassis engineering, heavy-duty commercial vehicles, plastics and manufacturing, among other things, in a 25-year career.

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Bannon has been in charge of the award-winning (J.D. Power IQS and APEAL awards) Edge program since its inception in 2005, and she says that, increasingly, Ford is leaving its senior managers in place because of their accumulated experience and relationships to the other senior team members.