January 7, 2013
2012 Tally: The Big Stars and Stumblers
According to Automotive News, lots of vehicles overachieved like crazy in what was a big, booming sales year for the industry, but many failed to live up to expectations in 2012. Winners benefited from fresh designs with fuel efficiency and appealing technology – such as the redesigned Toyota Camry, which helped rev up the high-volume mid-sized car segment. But generous incentives helped turn aging or lackluster models into sales stars, such as the Dodge Avenger and Honda Civic. Losers were either cannibalized by siblings (see Ford Fiesta, Buick Regal), did not offer sufficient fuel economy (note Jaguar XJ), or possibly were ahead of their time (see Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-MiEV). One of the year’s big winners was the Kia Soul, which outsells the entire Scion lineup that it imitates. It's the top-selling subcompact in America. Is it the hamster ads? Underachievers include the Acura ILX. The underequipped entry-luxury sedan has finally started outselling the aged, more expensive TSX it was designed to replace. But buyers still see it as just a Civic with leather seats. Read the rest of Automotive News’ list of the biggest winners and losers of 2012 by clicking here.
BMW 39% December Gain Overtakes Mercedes for U.S. Crown
BMW AG's U.S. sales surged 39 percent in December, powered by the 5 Series car line, helping it top Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz in luxury auto deliveries for the second consecutive year, reports The Detroit News. Sales for BMW increased to 37,399 vehicles last month, boosted by a 72 percent gain for its midsize 5 Series. Mercedes reported a 9.5 percent increase from a year earlier to 28,145, helped by sales of the E-Class sedan, which rose 32 percent to 6,984. Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus rose 21 percent to 30,607. December's sales vaulted BMW past Mercedes, which held a 1,849-vehicle lead through November. BMW finished 2012 with 281,460 vehicles sold, topping Mercedes-Benz by 7,326. The two German automakers were vying to be the top luxury brand in the U.S. after outselling Lexus last year. Lexus was the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. for 11 years until natural disasters in Asia curtailed vehicle production in 2011. BMW's U.S. sales rose 14 percent for 2012. BMW also benefited from a 46 percent jump in X3 sport utility vehicle sales in December to 5,162; deliveries of the SUV rose 27 percent for the year to 35,173. Click here for more on BMW’s successful year-end sales.
DCH Auto Blends Tradition with New Twists
Dah Chong Hong Ltd., a Chinese food and textile distributorship, survived World War II by relocating to avoid military occupation – first from Shanghai to Hong Kong, then to Macao and only returning to Hong Kong after the war ended in 1945. Thus the company that evolved into DCH Auto Group, which today operates 29 car dealerships in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and California, has a long history of moving and adapting, reports Automotive News. The man who led the transformation into autos was founder B.Y. Lam's son Shau-wai, who was born in 1941 while DCH was ensconced in Hong Kong. In 1959, the younger Lam was sent to America for an education. Now 71, Lam said he put the "customer-first" tradition of a Chinese merchant to work in the United States. "Most of our philosophy has been passed down generation to generation by informal tradition," said Lam, who is now chairman of the group. "We want to be industry leaders, be innovative, take better care of customers because we have happy employees who act as a team," Lam said. "The power of a team is much stronger than the sum of individuals added together." Read about DCH Auto’s road to success here.
GM, Toyota Aim to Increase Market Share
For the first time since the financial crisis, automakers are entering a year not only confident they will sell more cars and trucks, but knowing they have more new products to offer. Across all competitors, there will be 43 new or redesigned vehicles launching this year, nearly 50 percent more than in 2012, according to research firm R.L. Polk. Toyota and General Motors expect to gain market share this year. Toyota, along with its luxury and youth-oriented brands, Lexus and Scion, plans to launch nine models, said Jim Lentz, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales. The Detroit Free Press reports that those will include a new Toyota RAV4 and a new Lexus IS sedan. The automaker also plans to introduce a concept sedan named Furia here that should provide clues about the next-generation Corolla. That will be on top of 19 new or significantly updated models the company launched in 2012 when Toyota captured 14.4 percent of the U.S. market, up from 12.9 percent in 2011. Click here to read more about how some automakers plan to increase their 2013 market share.
Los Angeles Yanks Plug on Free Parking for Electric Cars
For years, LAX has offered electric-vehicle owners one of the most generous incentives of its kind in the country: free parking for 30 days in two of its terminal lots, which contain, altogether, 38 charging stations. The rule was meant to encourage people to buy greener cars, but lately it has turned the lots into a mob scene, with some electric-vehicle drivers circling the stations desperately for electricity or running extension cords while others hog the charging spaces for weeks at a time. Tension is rising between all-electric-car drivers, who say they actually need to charge their vehicles daily, and hybrid owners who can get away without doing so because their cars can run on gas as well. Now, reports The Wall Street Journal, the airport has announced it will begin charging EVs in March. "No one understands why we're doing this – especially in today's economy," says airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles, adding that not even handicapped travelers are allowed to park free of charge anymore. LAX is owned and operated by the city of Los Angeles. More than a quarter of the country's 40,000-odd electric cars on the roads are located in Southern California. Click here for more on LAX’s decision to pull the plug on free parking for EVs.
AROUND THE WEB
Toyota Modifies Start-Stop Buttons in Case of Panic [USA Today]
Video: The World's Largest Simultaneous Burnout [TopGear]
Why the Tire Pressure Light is the Most Useless Warning Light [Jalopnik]
Aston Martin Plans 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2013 [Autoblog]