August 23, 2012

Nissan Hires Consumer Reports Testing Chief David Champion
Nissan Motor Co. hired David Champion, whose recommendations as the head of auto testing for Consumer Reports have influenced countless car buyers, to help the company ensure its vehicles match up well against competing models. Automotive News reports that Champion, who was a quality-assurance engineer at Nissan from 1994 to 1997, will assume a newly created position, executive adviser of competitive assessment and quality, on Sept. 10. "David Champion's unique industry background will help ensure that the customer's voice is evident in every product we engineer," Carla Bailo, Nissan's senior vice president of research and development, said in a statement on Wednesday. "His experience in developing robust testing methods will help Nissan keep pace with the increasing complexity of our products and stay focused on continually improving our customer satisfaction ratings." Nissan said Champion will be based at its Arizona Testing Center south of Phoenix. Champion told Automotive News that he wants to help "make Nissan a world leader" by showing the company "what consumers look for in cars and try to help them really target their cars to their consumers." Read more about David Champion’s new position with Nissan here.

American Women Prefer Sedans, Crossovers
American women love their sedans, according to new research from Market Insight Corp. Auto Remarketing reports that in a recent study, the company found that although crossover body styles remain popular with female auto shoppers in the U.S., sedan body styles are on the rise. In July, the midsize sedan was the single most popular body style among U.S. female shoppers, the firm said, after beginning the year behind compact and midsize crossover body styles. The data is based on visits by thousands of female auto shoppers to MyProductAdvisor.com during the first seven months of 2012, and show differences in style preferences based on age. The report details the top 10 body styles most preferred overall by American women in July, with midsize crossovers, compact sedans, and large sedans rounding out the top five. The data varies by age, Market Insight found, with the four sedan categories most preferred among all body styles by the 18-to-24 age group in the first half of 2012. For women ages 35 to 49, compact and medium crossovers had the highest preference during that same time period. Click here for more on which vehicle styles women prefer.

Ford-Backed Study: Japan-U.S. Auto Partnership Would Cost Jobs
A study released this week by the Center for Automotive Research argues that allowing Japan to take part in nine-nation free trade talks could dramatically boost Japanese automotive exports to the United States, and cost more than 26,000 American jobs. The study by the Ann Arbor, Mich.,-based group was partially underwritten by Ford Motor Co., which has hotly criticized Japan and lobbied to keep it out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In June, a group of nine nations invited Canada and Mexico to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, leaving only Japan uninvited among major nations seeking to participate. The other nations in the talks are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. AIADA supports Japan’s inclusion in the TPP. However, U.S. automakers are sharply opposed to allowing Japan into the partnership talks. They argue that the Asian nation hasn't done enough to open its market to U.S. auto exports. Read AIADA Chairman Ray Mungenast’s response to critics of Japan’s inclusion by clicking here. For more from The Detroit News on a study commissioned by Ford that claims jobs will be lost as a result of a partnership with Japan, click here.

Sedan Market Heats Up
This week Honda Motor Co. began producing a redesigned version of its Accord midsize sedan that is roomier and more fuel-efficient than the old version, and jammed with new technology such as an infotainment system that pipes Facebook into the car. Honda is counting on the Accord to catch Toyota Motor Corp.'s Camry, the current top-selling midsize car, a large and strategically important niche considered key to brand loyalty. But to leapfrog Toyota, Honda must fend off a half-dozen rivals whose improved cars are also chasing the Camry. Nissan Motor Co.'s redesigned Altima and the Sonata from Hyundai Motor Co. have been gaining share. Later this year Ford Motor Co. will add the 2013 Fusion. General Motors Co. GM will follow with new versions of its Chevrolet Malibu. The Wall Street Journal reports that few vehicles are as important to a car maker's lineup as midsize sedans. In the first seven months of this year, 1.9 million of the $20,000 to $30,000 cars have been sold – almost one of every four of all light vehicles sold. Of the top-selling models, five of 10 are midsize sedans. For more on competition in the mid-size sedan segment, click here.

The Best Summer Clearance Deals on New Cars
Dealers want to make room on their lots for 2013 models, so they’re eager to clear out their 2012s, even if very little has changed from one year to the next. For savvy consumers, there are some generous rebates, finance rates, and lease deals available. And these aren’t just on a bunch of leftovers. In many cases, the clearance sales are on some of the manufacturers’ best-selling models and newly redesigned vehicles, reports Forbes. KBB.com dug through the myriad offers in popular categories to come up with the best purchase and lease deals available on well-equipped small and mid-sized cars and crossovers. Most deals expire Sept. 4. The recently introduced subcompact Mazda2, for example, is available for as little as $240 per month for five years after taking advantage of the zero-percent finance offer. Even the newly redesigned Toyota Camry, America’s top-selling car, is on sale. The 2012 model is available for $334 per month with zero-percent for five years along with $1,500 in cash rebates. Check out the best summer clearance deals here. Read more on KBB.com’s findings by clicking here.

Around the Web 
Subaru Announces 2013 XV Crosstrek Prices to Start at $21,995 [Autoblog]
First Details of New VW Golf [AutoWeek]
Mazda MX-5 GT4 Makes 320 HP, Costs $197K [AutoGuide.com]
10 Priciest Collector Cars from Pebble Beach [CNN Money]

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