December 3, 2012

Mitsubishi's U.S. Rebound Plan: Boost Lineup, Add Output
Mitsubishi Motors Corp. President Osamu Masuko has a big fix-it list, according to Automotive News. Mitsubishi's U.S. lineup has shrunk to four models, sales were down 29 percent through October, market share has dwindled, and the i electric vehicle is a flop. Masuko, 63, says things have bottomed out. U.S. sales should reach 55,000 units in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2013. He's targeting an increase to 80,000 the following year. To get there, he plans to bolster the lineup with new vehicles. Masuko also plans to ramp up production at Mitsubishi's Normal, Ill., plant to 70,000 Outlander Sport small crossovers, from just 50,000 now. Masuko spoke with Automotive News Asia Editor Hans Greimel about his strategy for the United States and other topics. “We expect volume to grow dramatically next year. For starters, the Outlander Sport will be sold on a full-year basis,” said Masuko. “On top of that, we will be introducing the redesigned Outlander in July of next year. And in September, we're going to be introducing the Mirage in the United States. So there is going to be a fuller, more extensive lineup of vehicles.” Click here to read more of Masuko’s interview on the future of Mitsubishi in the U.S.

Toyota RAV4 Gets a New Look, Better Fuel Economy
The Toyota RAV4 is getting a makeover that could help it retake the crossover crown. According to The Detroit News, the RAV4 was the first crossover when it went on sale in 1995, and it became a hit with families who wanted the roominess of an SUV with the tighter handling of a car. But as dozens of imitators entered the market offering more power, styling, or technology for the price, the pioneering RAV4 was gradually overtaken. The current version is now the fourth best-selling crossover in the U.S. The RAV4 was last redesigned in 2006. Now, Toyota hopes its revamped 2013 RAV4 can reclaim the top sales spot. The crossover has a sharper, more muscular look than the boxier outgoing model. It also has a redesigned interior and better fuel economy. It debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week and will go on sale early next year. Click here for a picture. Toyota will carry over the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine from the current RAV4. It gets 176 horsepower, down from 179 in the current model because Toyota had to meet more stringent emissions standards. For further details on the newly redesigned RAV4, click here.

Volvo Stakes Its Claim to Driverless Vehicles
Volvo Car Corp. is staking its future on the equivalent of an automotive moon shot: promising by the start of next decade to sell vehicles that can avoid passenger injuries. According to The Wall Street Journal, the 85-year-old company believes it can produce an accident free vehicle in just seven years. "Our vision is that no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020," said Anders Eugensson, Volvo's head of government affairs. Underpinning Mr. Eugensson's optimism is a bet on increasing demand for driverless functionality in cars, and the emergence of technology that essentially eliminates the chance for driver error. The company says it is preparing to launch in 2014 its first batch of autonomous vehicles capable of driving up to 31 miles per hour. The limited speed reflects the technology's expected initial use in heavy traffic. Volvo says it is working on higher-speed autonomous driving. Its prototypes have run thousands of miles of test drives on public roads in Spain and on the company's test track in western Sweden. "We are convinced this is the future and we want to get there first," Marcus Rothoff, head of developing Volvo's driver assistance technology, said. Click here for more on Volvo’s use of driverless technology.

Super Auto Sales Trail Superstorm Sandy
Super sales last month are expected to make up for sales losses due to Superstorm Sandy, reports USA Today. Analysts handicapping auto sales say that when sales are done being reported today, they will show that the industry remains on track for another strong recovery year. A lot of buyers who postponed buying a new car due to the storm that devastated parts of coastal New York and New Jersey returned to showrooms last month to buy. More could be coming this month. The industry was on track to sell 14.9 to 15.1 million for the year if results from last month held up over the full year, a pace that's up about 10.9 percent over last year, Jeffries predicts. 100,000 of them are from sales deferred due to the storm and that because things slowed a bit earlier this year, 2012 will finish with about 14.4 million vehicles sold, a healthy increase over last year. Kelley Blue Book forecasts a 14.7-million seasonally-adjusted sales rate for in November, slightly outpacing the previous month when the storm hit. Stay tuned for AIADA’s Market Watch sales report, coming tomorrow. Read about expectations for November auto sales here.

Americans Are Giving Diesels a Second Look
Mazda grabbed a moment in the spotlight by announcing this week that it's importing a diesel-powered Mazda6 sedan next year to the U.S. – a rare move for an Asian automaker in a land where diesel-powered cars occupy a tiny niche. Next year is also the projected date for General Motors (GM) to stick its toe in the water with a diesel-powered Cadillac ATS and Chevrolet Cruze. GM last marketed diesel cars in the U.S. almost 40 years ago, a debacle of questionable quality and consumer outrage. But today, along with hybrids and electrics, the latest generation of diesels occupies a fast-growing albeit tiny sliver of the U.S. vehicle market, reports CNN Money. The high-mileage categories are growing in importance as stricter federal fuel efficiency standards loom. By 2025 cars will be required to meet a 54.5 mile-per-gallon average, a standard that some automakers have called unrealistic. Allen Schaefer, a spokesman for Diesel Technology Forum, a manufacturers' trade group, noted that 14 car and SUV models using the technology currently are available, a number that will nearly double in the next 18 months. Click here to read more about Americans’ piquing interest in diesel technology.

AIADA and Federated Insurance Partner to Bring Dealers Distracted Driving Resources
Jacy Good never expected one of the happiest days of her life – her college graduation – would turn into the most devastating. An 18-year-old talking on a cell phone ran a red light, which forced a tractor trailer to swerve into the vehicle carrying Jacy and her family. Jacy’s parents were killed instantly, and Jacy was in a coma for two months. After several surgeries and regular rehabilitation, Jacy learned to walk and talk again. Now, imagine if the distracted driver was your employee, driving a company vehicle. Can you live with the fact that your employee just changed four people’s lives forever? What about the legal consequences, negative publicity, and loss of customers your business could face? AIADA is partnering with its Affinity Partner, Federated Insurance, to provide dealers with a compelling safety video developed by Federated Insurance, titled “Distracted Driving – In the Blink of an Eye.” The video documents the real-life stories of Jacy Good and Adrian Perez as they struggle with the consequences of distracted driving. This video is a must-watch for AIADA members and their employees. To get a free copy, and to learn how to protect your dealership and employees with a safe driving policy, contact your Federated representative by clicking here, or visit www.federatedinsurance.com.

Around the Web  
How to Drive on Ice: Winter Safety Driving Tips [AutoGuide.com]
2014 Subaru Forester Keeps the Winning Streak Alive [Motoramic]
Rendered Speculation: Next-Gen Audi TT [Autoblog]
The Fastest Cars at the L.A. Auto Show [Edmunds]

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