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2016 Nissan Sentra Gets Heavy Mid-Cycle Redesign

Refresh meant to give the sedan a more upscale appearance.

by on Nov.18, 2015

The 2016 Nissan Sentra's redesign is meant to give it a sleeker, more up-market appearance.

It’s long been the “other” Nissan sedan, the midsize Sentra often ignored in favor of the more upscale and better-selling Altima.

But the once vanilla sedan has earned some new fans in recent years for its mix of features and an affordable price tag, and the Japanese automaker is hoping to gain a bit more traction as it launches the updated 2016 Nissan Sentra.

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While this is, in many ways, the year of the SUV, the second-largest Japanese maker has made a major push to build its presence in the American sedan market, updating both the Altima, the bigger Maxima and now the Sentra.


Earnings Up, Nissan Raises Forecast

Strong North American sales, weak yen provide “positive momentum.”

by on Feb.09, 2015

CEO Ghosn raises Nissan's full-year earnings forecast.

Crediting improved sales, cost-cutting and a weak yen, Nissan is reporting a 21% jump in its quarterly profits, while also increasing its earnings estimate for the full fiscal year.

The second-largest of the Japanese makers earned 101.8 billion yen for the October to December quarter, or $856 million. That was significantly better than the 83 billion yen, or 697 million consensus forecast, according to FactSet.

“Nissan delivered solid financial results in the first nine months of the fiscal year, reflecting rising U.S. sales of our latest models and a normalizing yen-dollar exchange rate,” said the maker’s President and CEO Carlos Ghosn, in a statement.

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Crediting “positive momentum” in sales, as well as a weak yen, Ghosn upped the full-year forecast for Nissan to 420 billion yen, or $3.5 billion, which would be an 8% annual increase. Nissan had originally expected to earn 405 billion yen, or $3.4 billion, for the fiscal year which ends on March 31.


With Competitors Gaining Ground, Toyota Plans Major Camry Update

Maker promises more than the typical mid-cycle “refresh.”

by on Apr.03, 2014

The 2015 Toyota Camry update may borrow key design cues from the NS4 Plug-in Hybrid Concept.

It’s been a tough winter for Toyota, the maker’s traditionally best-selling Camry line unexpectedly losing some of its momentum in a hotly competitive midsize sedan market.

And that has the Japanese giant scrambling to hang onto the sales lead it has held in the U.S. market for the last dozen years. Toyota confirms it will unveil a new version of the Camry at the New York Auto Show later this month, and it promises that the 2015 update will be more than just the usual mid-cycle refresh.


Just how far it will go without a complete redesign remains to be seen, but with the Nissan Altima actually having led the sales race during January and February, Toyota officials are rapidly buying into the philosophy set by CEO Akio Toyoda who is demanding more “passion” from its future products – or “waku-doki” in Japanese.


First Drive: 2015 Chrysler 200

Chrysler finally gets into the (midsize) game.

by on Mar.20, 2014

Chrysler is looking to make inroads into the competitive midsize market segment with the news 2015 Chrysler 200.

Anyone looking for a midsize car has a wealth of choices from a wide variety of carmakers which have brought some very good options to U.S. showrooms in recent years.

Now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has entered the competition with a very good alternative that could provide an unexpected challenge to such formidable rivals as the Ford Fusion, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda6, and Chevrolet Malibu, never mind the midsize segment-leading Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima.

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For those familiar with the old Chrysler 200 – or worse, the old Sebring – the all-new 2015 Chrysler 200 that made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this year is likely to come as a very big surprise. Start with its distinctive exterior styling – which harkens back to the era, two decades ago, when Chrysler routinely set the industry agenda when it came to design. (more…)

Toyota Adding “Limited-Edition” Camry Spin-Off in Bid to Bolster Sales

Nissan and Ford continue making inroads toward the top spot.

by on Feb.05, 2014

Toyota is bringing out a new Limited Edition Camry in the middle of the 2014 model year to keep ahead of the Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion in sales.

Toyota will roll out a “Limited Edition” version of the midsize Camry sedan during this week’s Chicago Auto Show media preview – and it could arrive at a critical time for the perennially popular midsize sedan.

The Camry Hybrid SE Limited Edition, which delivers a 40 mpg City rating, will reach U.S. showrooms at a time when the sedan may be losing momentum and risking its position as America’s best-selling passenger car.

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Camry sales declined by 27% in January and Bill Fay, Toyota Motor Sales vice president, said the decline was in part due to a short fall in deliveries to fleet buyers. The sharp decline left the Camry roughly 800 units ahead of the Nissan Altima in the race for best-selling car title. The Altima also surged past the Honda Accord, which found itself in fourth place in the critical mid-sized car segment after being passed by the Ford Fusion – a result most analysts would have dismissed as unlikely only 18 months ago. (more…)

Nissan Reports Marginal Profit Increase

Maker lifted by weak yen but hurt by ongoing China problems.

by on May.10, 2013

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the 2013 NY Auto Show.

Nissan kept its balance sheet in the black for the just-ended fiscal year, but despite the lift it got from the weakening yen, the maker had trouble overcoming the ongoing problems it faces in China, as well as some unexpected setbacks in the U.S. market.

The second-largest Japanese maker’s modest 0.3% increase in a net profit of ¥342.45 billion, or $3.4 billion, comes in sharp contrast to the tripling in profits reported earlier this week by arch-rival Toyota Motor Co.

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The two automakers were both hurt by problems in China stemming, but Nissan had other issues to deal with, senior officials acknowledged, the company’s CEO Carlos Ghosn telling reporters that “It’s clear that several negative factors outweighed (the) positive contributions” of such things as the weakening yen.


Chevy Struggles to Kickstart Sluggish Malibu Sales

Price cut could help – but “emergency refresh” also coming.

by on Feb.12, 2013

Chevrolet has had little success taking on the dominant Japanese with the new 2013 Malibu.

Chevrolet’s goal of regaining its once-lofty position in the U.S. midsize sedan market have failed to materialize –forcing the maker to slash prices and order up an “emergency refresh” of the only recently redesigned Malibu.

General Motor’s largest brand will slash the price on its midsize Malibu by as much as $770 hoping to keep the sedan from losing more ground to its import and domestic competitors. Introduced in early 2012, the domestic 4-door faces a formidable assortment of competitors in one of the market’s toughest segments, including all-new versions of the Ford Fusion, Nissan Altima and Honda Accord, as well as the midsize sales leader, the Toyota Camry.

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Malibu sales did post a modest gain in 2012, according to tracking firm Autodata, but the 3.3% rise, to 210,951 units, lagged well behind the overall 13.5% increase in the U.S. market. Malibu’s unanticipated shortfall is one reason why parent General Motors lost 1.5 points of market share in 2012, industry analysts report.


Nissan Bucks Upward Trend, Profits Plunge by More Than a Third

CEO Ghosn promises a product-led turnaround.

by on Feb.11, 2013

No excuses from Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

CEO Carlos Ghosn didn’t try to sugar coast Nissan Motor Co.’s latest financial results, admitting the more than one-third drop in the maker’s latest quarterly earnings “did not meet our expectations.” The news comes in sharp contrast to the results at Japanese competitors including both Toyota Motor Co. and Mazda Motor Co.

Nonetheless, the chief executive – who also serves as CEO of alliance partner Renault – contends Nissan is taking “swift” action to put things back on track and should have the products to help “reignite” its momentum.

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In dollar terms, Nissan reported a $670 million profit for the three months ending on December 31st, a 34.6% decline. Revenues, meanwhile, slipped 5.3% for the quarter, to $27.23 billion.  For the first nine months of the fiscal year, the second-largest Japanese maker has earned $2.91 billion based on an exchange rate of 81.1 yen to the U.S. dollar.


Nissan Opens US Leaf Battery Plant

Automaker still betting big on EVs despite poor sales of Leaf.

by on Dec.13, 2012

A worker assembles a Leaf battery pack at Nissan's new facility in Smyrna, TN.

Nissan took a major step toward U.S. production of its Leaf electric vehicle with the beginning of lithium-ion battery production in at its plant in Smyrna, Tenn.

Smyrna is the third location for production of Leaf batteries. The new battery facility is located right alongside a new assembly line that will shortly begin producing the Leaf itself for the U.S. and other markets

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“Opening this U.S. plant is an important milestone in Nissan’s overarching strategy to foster sustainable mobility around the world,” said Carlos Ghosn, Nissan president and chief executive officer. “The opening of this facility in Tennessee supports our goal of making zero-emissions mobility a reality through American jobs and American manufacturing.”


Gearing Up: New GM/Ford 10-Speed Automatic Part of Transmission Revolution

How many gears are too many?

by on Oct.03, 2012

The 2013 Lexus LS is one of a growing number of vehicles with advanced 8-speed automatics.

General Motors and Ford have confirmed they will jointly develop a new generation of fuel-efficient automatic gearboxes. What they aren’t saying is that the new transmissions will use as many as nine and even 10 different gears in an effort to minimize fuel-consumption, about twice the number of gear ratios used in most of today’s automatics.

While it’s common to have a 21-speed bicycle and most big 18-wheel trucks use nearly as many speeds, the transmissions Ford and GM will develop are a significant step beyond what was normally considered necessary in the automotive environment. And that underscores the pressure manufacturers are feeling as they face the 37.5 mpg Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard going into effect in 2016 and the 54.5 CAFE rules to follow in 2025.

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But is there a point of diminishing returns?

“Ford and GM have a very successful history in designing and jointly producing automatic transmissions,” a Ford spokesman told, adding that, “We can confirm…that we have signed an MOU (a Memo of Understanding) to jointly collaborate in the development of a variety of all-new, fuel-efficient transmissions.”