Auto Notes - January 2017
Sales review. As 2016 closed out, U.S. light-duty vehicle sales were on track for more than 17 million units sold. In general, YTD sales indicated that pickup trucks and SUVs/crossovers were up, while most car sales in all four categories (small, midsize, large, and luxury) were down.
Minivan sales dropped some 20 percent in November, but YTD sales were up almost 11 percent. Luxury cars took a big hit in 2016, down about 13 percent. Subaru continued its growth in 2016 with 61 consecutive months of sales gains in the U.S. The Subaru Outback was up about 20 percent for the year and November sales were the best ever for model.
Sales preview. If 2016 was a good year for automakers, what does 2017 hold for U.S. and worldwide sales of cars and light trucks? Industry analysts indicate that the new year may be even more robust than 2016, all based on what happens with a new administration in the White House and global economic conditions.
Car And Driver magazine has forecasted 2017 sales at 18.2 million in the U.S. Top performers in the forecast are Ford at 2,556,063 (plus Lincoln at 101,669), Toyota at 2,196,822, Chevrolet at 2,174,986, Honda at 1,502,184, and Nissan at 1,393,088. The combined FCA US (Fiat, RAM, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Alfa Romeo, and Maserati) would be 3,686,331. If GM combines all its models (Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac, and Buick) that total would be 3,199,223.
Detroit in January. An indicator of 2017 vehicle excitement and potential U.S. sales will revolve around the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) this month in Detroit. Drawing media from more than 60 countries, the event showcases what may be hot sellers for this year and beyond.
More than 40 global vehicle debuts will take place in Detroit, plus North American introductions, plentiful concepts, and self-driving cars technology will be on display. Pixar Animation Studios will have a sneak peak at the “Cars 3” movie that will release in the summer. Automobili-D, showcasing technologies from 100 global automakers and technology companies, will run in conjunction with NAIAS.
Debuting at NAIAS 2017 will be the 2018 Toyota Camry, the 2017 Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz new E-Class Coupe, and Chinese automaker Guangzhou Automobile Group will return to NAIAS with a vehicle or two that may enter the U.S. market in the near future.
Also at the show, the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards will be presented.
Safety awards. The 2017 Buick Envision AWD model has earned a 5-Star overall vehicle safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, the Envision earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) Top Safety Pick+ rating when the vehicle was equipped with the optional front crash prevention system.
As we reported last month, the Buick lineup was ranked third in Consumer Report’s Annual Brand Reliability Survey, the first time in more than three decades a domestic brand has received a top rating in the survey.
Volvo Cars also won the 2017 Top Safety Pick+ awards for its S60, V60, and XC60 models with Active Dual Xenon headlamps. The Volvo S90 and XC90 models also won Top Safety Pick designations from IIHS. With the December announcements, Volvo leads all European automakers with the most Top Safety Pick awards.
Hyundai racer. Hyundai Motorsport announced in December that it will compete in the 2017 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with an all-new 2017 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC. It’s the third new car for the automaker since its debut in the WRC in 2014.
The new-generation i20 three-door coupe has overall weight reduction, revamped active center differential, aggressive new aerodynamics, plus an increase in horsepower from 304 to 385 with its turbocharged 1.6-L engine.
Quick Notes. Chevrolet announced in December that the redesigned 2018 Equinox crossover, on sale in the spring, will have a starting price of $24,475 and will offer three turbocharged engines. GM also announced that its first nine-speed automatic transmission debuts in its 2017 Chevrolet Malibu, and will be available in the 2017 Cruze Diesel and the 2018 Equinox. Plant Oxford in the UK reached a milestone in December as the three millionth MINI rolled off the assembly line, a John Cooper Works Clubman AWD model. From 300 units a day in 2001, the plant currently assembles 1,000 vehicles per day. The 2017 Nissan Rogue Hybrid, the first-ever hybrid offering in Rogue history, is a finalist for the Green Car Journal magazine’s “2017 Green SUV of the Year” award that will be announced at the Washington Auto show in the nation’s capital in late January. Consumer Guide Automotive has awarded the Kia Soul with its Best Buy Award 2017 for the third consecutive year.