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Posts Tagged ‘minicars’

Toyota Confirms it Will Buy Rest of Daihatsu

Deal worth about $3 billion.

by on Jan.29, 2016

The Daihatsu Noridri concept first shown at the Tokyo Motor Show last year.

Confirming earlier reports out of Japan, Toyota says it plans to buy out the remaining 48.8% of microcar maker Daihatsu that it does not already control.

The deal, which will strengthen Toyota’s hand in the minicar market in both Japan and emerging markets, will involve a stock swap worth about $3 billion. The takeover is expected to be completed by late July.

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“We see this as the perfect opportunity to cement our relationship with Toyota, and, by doing so, to embark on a new period of growth, and to elevate the Daihatsu brand to a global standard,” Daihatsu said in a statement announcing the deal.


Smart Reveals New ForTwo Cabrio

America’s smallest car goes topless.

by on Aug.28, 2015

The newly redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio will offer a three-position canvas top.

The new Smart car hasn’t yet landed in showrooms in the U.S. but the German microcar maker is already rolling out a second version, with a third on the way.

The redesigned Smart ForTwo Cabrio gets a new canvas “tritop” that can open up like a sunroof or fold back more like a conventional convertible. Set to formally debut at next month’s Frankfurt Motor Show, the two-seater will reach showrooms in mid-spring 2016.

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“Our new smart cabrio really exudes joie de vivre in the city – which is what our brand stands for”, said Smart brand boss Annette Winkler. “I am sure that we will delight our present 220,000 cabrio customers and win lots of new fans with this successful lifestyle icon.”


Little Smart Has Big Ambitions for New ForTwo

But is there a market for microcars in truck-happy U.S.?

by on Aug.25, 2015

Two extremes of the Daimler AG family, the 2016 Smart ForTwo with a row of Western Star trucks.

Size matters. That’s long been a guiding principle in the U.S. auto industry, and with fuel prices down sharply this year, it seems truer than ever as American motorists once again shift from fuel-efficient small cars to larger SUVs, CUVs and pickups.

And that raises a serious question about this year’s launch of what will be the smallest car on the U.S. market, the 2016 Smart ForTwo. After a seemingly endless delay, parent Daimler AG has launched an all-new version of the microcar just as potential competitors, such as the Mini Cooper and Fiat 500 struggle to reverse double-digit sales declines.

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Nonetheless, “We hope there is much more potential” for a brand that has so far failed to live up to its initial promise, says Annette Winkler, the head of the Smart brand during a first U.S. media drive of the new ForTwo model.


First Look: Updated Fiat 500

No immediate plans for U.S. market update.

by on Jul.07, 2015

The 2016 Fiat 500 gets a number of exterior and interior updates - in Europe.

While we Americans have only had access to the little Fiat 500 since the 2012 model-year, it’s been around the block for awhile – getting only modest changes since its European introduction in 2007. Considering the speed with which vehicles are being refreshed these days, that might suggest the Cinquecento is already overdue.

And, indeed, for 2016 Fiat is bringing some changes to the little car, making a number of modest exterior updates, introducing revised powertrains, and giving the 2016 Fiat 500 a much more user-friendly infotainment system based on the Uconnect system developed by the Chrysler side of the family.

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Here’s the catch: for now, the changes to the Fiat 500 are for the European market only. There’s no word if or when we’ll see the Italian maker tweak the U.S. version.

“The 500 revealed in Turin is a model produced in Europe for Europe,” explains FCA spokesman Bryan Zvibleman. “The Fiat 500 for North America will continue to be produced in Toluca, Mexico keeping the specific features for the North American market.”

So, what are you missing out on?


Chevy Hopes to Spark Interest of Minicar Buyers

2016 Chevrolet Spark debuts in both New York and Seoul.

by on Apr.02, 2015

The 2016 Chevrolet Spark debuted at the New York Auto Show. It's been completely redesigned and hits showrooms in the fourth quarter.

Chevrolet pulled the covers off its new 2016 Spark – twice, in fact, with simultaneous debuts at the auto shows in both New York and Seoul.

The Korean-made minicar has been defying recent trends that have seen sales of small passenger cars slump in light of the drop in fuel prices. Demand for the Chevrolet Spark has risen by nearly a third so far this year after a 14.7% jump in 2014.And with the overall minicar segment expected to grow by 30% by 2018, GM sees even greater opportunities.

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Though the 2016 Spark retains its basic, tall hatchback shape, GM has adopted a “sleeker, more aerodynamic profile and a progressive take” on the outgoing model’s basic design cues. That fits into efforts to win over young urban buyers who want something small but not necessarily a basic econobox.


Nissan Hopes to Sway Small Car Buyers with New Concept

Nissan Sway concept expected to reappear as the next Nissan Micra.

by on Feb.25, 2015

The Nissan Sway concept is believed to be a close-to-production design tease for the next Micra.

Nissan is out to prove that big things really can come in small packages, the maker offering up a first teaser image of the new Sway concept vehicle it plans to unveil at the Geneva Motor Show next week.

The small hatchback is expected to be a thinly disguised version of the next-generation Micra, according to several sources spoke with. The Nissan Sway concept underscores the increasingly competitive nature of the minicar market, particularly in Europe, where buyers expect many of the same features, and much the same level of creature comfort, as they’d get in larger products.

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“Sway is a glimpse at how a future generation of small Nissan models could look if the company’s striking new design language was applied to a European hatchback,” Nissan said in a short release accompanying the teaser image.


New Renault Twingo Offers Hint of New Smart ForFour

Smaller outside, bigger In – with new rear-engine layout.

by on Mar.05, 2014

The new Renault Twingo will share its platform with the upcoming Smart ForFour 4-seater.

There’s a big car inside the little Renault Twingo making its debut at the Geneva Motor Show this year – and it offers some significant hints as to what’s to come when Smart unveils its own new minicar, the Forfour, later in 2014.

The two vehicles were developed as part of an expanding alliance pairing the French automaker and Smart’s German parent Daimler AG – along with Renault’s Japanese partner Nissan.  The three makers are jointly developing an array of vehicles, from microcars to compact luxury models.

Full-Size News!

The new Twingo is more than just a modest redesign. Working with Smart, Renault made some radical changes – starting with the decision to mount the engine in the rear, a strategy that offers a number of advantages, contends Benoit Bochard, the program’s product planning chief.  Among other things, it helped engineers move the front axle forward, yielding significantly more space for both passengers and cargo.


Hazumi Concept “Foreshadows” Maker’s Next Mazda2

Latest SkyActive design.

by on Mar.04, 2014

The new Hazumi Concept is expected to receive relatively minor tweaks before transforming into the next Mazda2.

Over the years, we have learned to pay close attention when Mazda rolls out a new concept vehicle.  Chances are that we’ll see the design again, as even the most extreme show cars tend to have a clear influence on the Japanese maker’s upcoming production models.

So it seems to be with the new Mazda Harumi Concept making its debut outing at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show. The little prototype is, according to the maker, a “foreshadowing” of what’s to come when it launches its next-generation Mazda2 minivar.

What a Concept!

In sharp contrast to some of its more conservative Asian rivals, Mazda has been pushing the limits of design and using its show cars to gauge both media and consumer reaction.  And if the Harumi is any indication, it could strike a responsive chord with those who’ve grown tired of the formula that has long contended that buyers on a budget must settle for bland and boring econoboxes.


Nissan Bringing New Microcar to North America

But no plans – yet – to sell Nissan Micra in the U.S.

by on Jan.20, 2014

Nissan's new Micra will launch in Canada for 2015.

Nissan is bringing its Micra minicar to the North America — but not to the United States, at least for now.

Nissan has announced that it plans to sell the new, 2015 Micra in Canada, a move that reflects the fact that Canadian motorists tend to be more interested in small cars than their American counterparts.

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“Micra will change the automotive landscape and provide Canadians with the value and fun they deserve in an entry-level car,” said Christian Meunier, President, Nissan Canada Inc. “With great visibility, impressive agility and excellent turning radius, Micra is designed for Canadian drivers.  It will offer a small and fuel efficient, yet spacious and fun choice – at a great price.”


Fiat Ponders Future Product Options

Might microcar maker look to something bigger?

by on Jun.17, 2013

Two versions of the new Fiat 500L, the Lounge and the Trekking. The maker is now looking at future products.

With the 500L, its second distinct product line, now rolling into U.S. showrooms, Fiat is pondering where to go next.  The maker is hoping to broaden its appeal with an expanding array of microcars – but several senior officials hint that something a bit bigger could be in the cards, as well. The question now being debated internally is just how much bigger the brand can go.

After a painfully slow start, Fiat finally clicked with U.S. consumers in 2012, sales surging to 43,000, in line with earlier forecasts.  The maker is hoping that the new 500L could bump that volume up substantially, the little people-mover potentially generating as much as half of the brand’s U.S. sales, according to Jason Stoicevich, who recently took over as North American brand boss.

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He is quick to stress that doesn’t mean sales will double, as some potential Fiat buyers might switch from the little 500 coupe to the 500L – which is a full 27 inches longer and offers interior space nearly as big as the full-size Chrysler 300 sedan.

“We’re not going to set (unhealthy) numbers we have to chase,” Stoicevich told during an interview in Baltimore where Fiat gave automotive journalists the first chance to drive the new 500L.  “We want to grow, but we want to be smart about it.”