Auto Notes - February 2019
Sales. Final light-duty vehicle sales hit 17.27 million for 2018, up .03 percent over 2017, despite overall higher prices for cars and trucks. Lower fuel costs and a moderately strong economy are factors some analysts said played a role in helping sales for the year.
The average cost of a new vehicle in December was just under $36,000, a 2 percent increase over 2017. Cars represented 32 percent of sales in 2018, while trucks and SUVs accounted for 68 percent of all light-duty vehicles sold.
Subaru awards. Subaru models have garnered several awards recently, including the 2019 IIHS Top Safety Pick+ designation, 2018 Kelley Blue Book’s Most Trusted Brand, and the ALG 2019 Top Brand for Residual Value. The Ascent won the WardsAuto 2018 10 Best User Experience award.
Subaru of America set several records in 2018, including an all-time sales record of 680,135, up 5 percent from 2017, and best-ever December sales at 64,541 units sold. That marked 85 consecutive months of yearly, month-over-month growth.
The WRX STI S209 debuted at the Detroit show, the first S variant to be sold in the U.S. Like the S208 that debuted in Tokyo last year, the S209 will have a limited production.
Detroit show. The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit celebrated its 30th anniversary as a rebranded international event. The January show had more than 30 vehicle debuts, fewer than years past, plus the 2019 AutoMobili-D three-day pre-show event again brought together more than 200 automakers, suppliers, tech start-ups, universities, and government organizations to exchange ideas and showcase mobility innovations and technologies.
The big news for Detroit is a major change for its show in 2020. Since 1907 (with a break during World War II) it has been staged in January, both prior to and since its “international” status as one of the world’s major auto shows the past 30 years. According to the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), sponsor of the show, the event moves to June in 2020. It will incorporate more outdoor activities, including ride n’ drives and special displays, on the streets near it longtime home, Cobo Hall. DADA said the show hopes to retain its international status.
Volvo honors. Volvo products earned numerous awards in 2018, including several year-end accolades. The XC40 small luxury SUV and the XC90 midsize SUV were named 2019 Consumer Guide Automotive Best Buys, and the XC40 was also named the Supreme Winner of the 2018 Women's World Car of the Year competition.
The Volvo 360c autonomous concept won the “Interior Design” Best of the Year award. Cindy Allen, editor in chief of Interior Design, said the concept was the most cutting-edge project judged. “It’s the elite of the elite that take home our Best of the Year awards.”
Last year, Volvo Cars partnered with Luminar, a leading developer of sensing technology for autonomous cars, to create LiDAR technology for safe navigation in traffic for self-driving vehicles. LiDAR has “perception capabilities” that can detect human limbs and detect objects some 820 feet away. The 360c model combines LiDAR, is electric, totally autonomous, completely connected (even to other vehicles on the road), and safe, Volvo officials said.
World Car. The Road to the World Car Awards made a stop at in Las Vegas, Jan 10., where Tim Stevens, CNET’s Roadshow editor-in-chief and World Car director, hosted a panel discussion about automotive technology.
The Road to World Car began Sept. 19, in Paris, moved to Los Angeles in November (48 jurors from 18 countries participated over six days), will showcase finalists at the Geneva Motor Show in March, and ends with award ceremonies at the New York International Auto Show in April. In total, more than 80 international automotive journalists test drive and vote on selected vehicles.
On Feb. 5, the Top Ten World Car of the Year finalists will be announced, as will the Top Five finalists in the other categories (World Luxury Car, World Green Car, World Performance Car, World Urban Car, and World Car Design of the Year).
World Car Awards is the No. 1 awards program of its type globally for the sixth consecutive year according to Prime Research’s independent media report.