September 10, 2012

Less is More for Hyundai Dealerships
Even after Hyundai's best August ever, its dealers are painfully aware that they could sell many more vehicles if the automaker could provide them. Dealers are selling vehicles rapidly, mainly to keep their precious vehicle allocations, reports Automotive News. "Years ago, I remember, if we wanted cars, especially domestically made cars, there were tens of thousands of cars on the ground in Alabama," said Scott Fink, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council. "Now there's none. We don't have enough cars, the manufacturer doesn't have enough cars, and we have consumers standing in line to buy our cars. It's a far better situation." Hyundai just reported its best August ever in the United States. The brand sold 61,099 vehicles last month, up 4 percent from August 2011. A big reason for the brand's banner month is the speed at which Hyundai dealers are selling vehicles. During the first eight months of the year, the average Hyundai vehicle sold after 27 days on a dealer's lot, compared with 34 days in the same period last year, said John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America. Click here for more on the challenges associated with Hyundai’s success and lean inventory

Honda Accord Joins Battle of New Midsize Sedans
Stand back, ladies and gents. Here comes the remade Honda Accord. According to The Detroit Free Press, the fight for alpha-status in midsize sedans is about to get bloody. Once a perennial contender for best-selling car in the U.S., Accord hasn't taken the gold in more than a decade, bested by the Toyota Camry. Honda did a full makeover for the 2013 on sale Sept. 19. Major changes include slimming the exterior, boosting mileage by as much as 4 miles per gallon to 36 mpg on the highway, adding more, and updated, technology, and raising prices for various trim levels up to $300. The new starting price with automatic transmission, the way most Americans will buy it, is up $200 to $22,470, including shipping. Girding for battle, Honda has revamped Accord production in the U.S. so that, combined with some imports from Japan, it could build enough new Accords to pass Camry. "There's no doubt they want to outsell Camry," says Rebecca Lindland of industry consultant IHS Automotive. The fight "is going to be ugly." Being No. 1 is important beyond bragging rights; it can be self-sustaining. Click here to read more about the new Honda Accord and the competition it faces.

Toyota Maintains New-Model Appeal on Kbb.com
During a span that included recalls and ramifications from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, Kelley Blue Book discovered the Toyota brand dominates new-vehicle shopping activity on Kbb.com when examining shopper loyalty and share-of-voice data from the past three years. Since the first quarter of 2010, KBB indicated, Toyota has claimed the top spot for shopper loyalty on Kbb.com more than any other brand. According to Auto Remarketing, when Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence studied cross-shopping consideration and other brand loyalty factors among new-car shoppers on KBB's website, analysts found that Toyota has ranked No. 1 for five out of the last nine quarters. Meanwhile, Honda and Hyundai have each claimed the top spot two times. Most recently, during the second quarter of this year, Kelley Blue Book found more than half of Toyota owners visiting Kbb.com remained loyal to the brand as defined by researching a new Toyota model on the site. Furthermore, the company said Toyota has been the undisputed leader in share-of-voice across its website in terms of new-car shopping activity for the past three years. Read more about Toyota’s success here.

Automakers Heed Call to Update Horn to Changing Markets
Cars have gotten a lot more advanced in the last few decades, but at least one part – the humble car horn – has remained virtually untouched. Until now. According to The Detroit News, as carmakers sell more vehicles globally, they're changing horns to comply with various international noise laws. They're using different materials to save weight and improve fuel economy. And they're making horns more resilient for markets such as India, where horns are used much more frequently than in the United States. U.S. horns are typically 110 decibels. The United States has no specific standard, but there are some state and local laws governing horn noise. Although horn design is impacted by emerging markets like India, it is also impacted by the U.S. market. GM recently changed the copper wire in its horns to lighter aluminum, which slightly improves fuel economy. Jason Wong, General Motors Co.'s lead global engineer for horns, said we're moving toward a world in which car horns will sound more similar. As companies bring out newer, larger models, they're transitioning to trumpet horns, which play the mellower chords familiar to Western ears. For more on the evolution of the car horn, click here.

Small Cars Are Changing; Will They Fit in the U.S.?
Cars have scale; they look different depending on the background they are set against. According to The New York Times, the need to maintain a sense of scale makes it hard to simply ship small cars from Europe and Asia – many of which are so wonderful in situ – to the United States. Still, there are other attractions that can make those morsels tempting to Americans. Trends in small-car style in Europe and Asia, which will be on display this month at the Paris auto show – it opens for press previews on Sept. 27 – are bound to influence cars sold in the American market. They already have: gone are the low-price gray boxes and blobs that characterized the design of many cheap small cars of the past. Following the retro path of Mini or Fiat, other small cars offer more color choices. Body-color paint extends inside to doors and dashboards now, and the hues are more daring. Small cars are also changing, the better to stimulate desire among young drivers. For more on the changing face of small cars, click here.

Around the Web  
Why Texas' Insanely Fast 85 MPH Speed Limit Isn't a Big Deal [Jalopnik]
2013 Mercedes-Benz A45 Spy Shots [MotorAuthority]
Images: Aston Martin Vanquish [Autoblog]
The Most Expensive Trucks of 2012 [Forbes]

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