Midsize Sedans, Crossovers Dominate Car, Truck of the Year Finalists

First Up 12/13/12

December 13, 2012

Midsize Sedans, Crossovers Dominate Car, Truck of the Year Finalists
According to The Detroit Free Press, midsize sedans and small crossovers dominate the list of North American Car and Truck of the Year finalists, released Wednesday. For cars, the finalists are the Cadillac ATS, Ford Fusion, and Honda Accord. In the truck category, the judges must choose their favorite from among the Ford C-Max, Mazda CX-5, and Ram 1500. Michele Krebs, senior analyst for Edmunds.com and one of the 49 jurors, said the car category included a number of high-caliber competitors. Other strong contenders, such as the BMW 3 Series, Dodge Dart, and Nissan Altima, were notably absent from the finalists. "This was one of the toughest years of judging that I have experienced," said Lindsay Brooke, senior editor of SAE Magazines and a member of the judging committee. "Accord and Fusion, in particular, are formidable contenders." The finalists were revealed Wednesday at an Automotive Press Association lunch in Detroit. The winners will be announced Jan. 14 at the North American International Auto Show. The award is coveted by automakers because it represents the collective assessment of veteran journalists who have test-driven vehicles for years. For coverage of the North American Car and Truck of the Year finalists, click here.

Acura Plans MDX Successor with 'Aero Sculpture' Design
Automotive News reports that Acura will introduce a prototype of the 2014 MDX mid-sized crossover in January at the Detroit auto show. American Honda’s prototypes often closely resemble the production versions, so the concept should provide a clear idea of where Acura’s new “aero sculpture” design direction is headed. That design language takes over from the “keen edge” styling that was criticized for producing Acura’s “beak” grille, among other styling cues. Click here for a concept picture. “The 2014 MDX Prototype will feature alluring proportions with smooth, arching body lines matched to an efficient architecture,” the automaker said today in a statement. The MDX is Acura’s volume leader and getting the redesign right is crucial for the premium brand’s sales, which have advanced 27 percent this year to 140,182 through November. U.S. sales of the MDX totaled 45,785 units, up 18 percent through November, or 33 percent of Acura’s sales volume so far this year. Sales of the current generation MDX peaked at 58,606 units in 2007, just before the market collapse. Read more about Acura’s plans for its new MDX here.

Detroit Auto Show Will Bring Dozens of Debuts
As U.S. automobile sales rebound, the world's automakers are betting big on next month's North American International Auto Show, with nearly 50 products slated to be unveiled at Detroit's newly renovated Cobo Center. Most of these will be global reveals – cars and trucks making their worldwide debut. More than 30 marques will be featured at this year's show, which is open to the public Jan. 19-27. A number of luxury brands are making their return, too, including Britain's Jaguar and Land Rover, and Italy's Ferrari and Maserati. The Chinese will be back as well, represented by Guangzhou Automobile Group Corp., which will unveil a new car in Detroit. "(The automakers) are all very excited about the show," vice chairman Bob Shuman said. "I think they're all very positive." So are the world's automotive journalists. According to The Detroit News, international registrations for the media days – Jan. 14 and 15 – are up 15 percent over last year, when more than 5,100 auto writers from more than 60 countries attended. Show organizers are promising some significant changes over last year, including the opening of a new three-story atrium that will be used for high-profile show events. Click here for more on what to expect from the 2013 Detroit Auto Show.

Electric Cars Like Volt, Leaf Hold Resale Value
Potential resale value has been a question raised about electric cars, and the answer, according to two recent used-car pricing estimates, is that two best-selling electrics may lag behind similar conventional vehicles – but not by much. An all-electric 2012 Nissan Leaf (the 2013 is not on sale yet) is expected to be worth 20 percent of its new-car list price after five years of ownership, compared with a used price in the low 30 percent range for a similar conventional Nissan Sentra compact sedan, according to price-tracker Kelley Blue Book. And an extended-range electric 2013 Chevrolet Volt is forecast to be worth 30 percent of its sticker price at the end of five years, not far from the similar, conventional 2013 Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan at 38 percent, KBB says. According to USA Today, another pricing service, ALG, pegs the resale value a percentage point higher each for the Leaf and Volt. The average resale value of a 2013 compact car over the same five-year period is 36.6 percent of list. Predicted depreciation is an important factor for acceptance of electric cars, which have higher upfront prices than similar gas-engine cars and even hybrids. Click here for more on electric vehicle resale values.

America's Dirtiest Vehicles 2013
New technologies and alternate fuels promise to make driving a light duty vehicle a cleaner experience with every passing year, but for the foreseeable future, conventional gasoline internal combustion engine-powered vehicles dominate our roadways. According to the Early Release Overview of the 2013 Annual Energy Outlook Report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, less than 5.7 percent of the total energy burned in fuel to power light duty vehicles in the United States is consumed by alternate fuel vehicles (including E85/Flex Fuel, gasoline/electric hybrids, electrics, compressed natural gas, hydrogen fuel cells and other technologies). For the purposes of this rating, Forbes is concentrating on light duty vehicles that are powered by gasoline, E85, and diesel fuel. It is nearly impossible to calculate the cleanliness of battery-powered vehicles, because there are so many different energy sources used to generate electricity. Forbes has further refined by adding a category for brands that are sold in low volume in the United States, with total brand sales below 5,000 per year last year. This category will include exotics and high-end luxury vehicles. Read more about Forbes’ list of 2013’s dirtiest vehicles here.

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.

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