Toyota's All-Electric bZ4x is Coming to U.S. with Up To 250 Miles of Range

First Up 11/17/21

How this Dealership Group Keeps Customers Coming Back: Text Messages

The numbers told a stark story to Helmi Felfel. How many unread emails were in his inbox? More than 5,000. How many unread texts were on his phone? Zero. In the midst of rethinking his marketing and advertising plans, Felfel, president of Planet Automotive Group, realized he needed to move beyond traditional outreach and include texting in his efforts to better engage customers across his three Charlotte, N.C.-area dealerships. "You can call them, and they'll put you on 'ignore,' " Felfel told Automotive News. "You can leave them a voicemail, and they won't listen to it. You can send an email, and they won't open it. People are busy. I know I am. So, to ask people to dedicate a certain amount of time to read an email or talk to somebody? Doesn't happen. But on a text — on their own terms — they seem to want to make it happen." North Carolina’s Planet Automotive Group uses Chatterspot technology to automatically send coupons and offers, via text message, to customers who have not visited the service department in a while. For more on how it works for them, click here.

Mazda Sees New SUVs Boosting U.S. Sales a Third by Mid-Decade

Mazda Motor Corp expects the rollout of three new sport-utility vehicles, starting with the CX-50 next year, will help the Japanese automaker boost U.S. new-vehicle sales by a third by mid-decade, the company's North American chief executive said on Monday. The company expects U.S. sales to finish this year "on the order of 330,000," up from almost 280,000 last year, when supplies were hurt by the semiconductor shortage, Jeff Guyton said in an interview after Mazda unveiled the mid-sized CX-50. Mazda's U.S. sales through October this year were up 30 percent to almost 293,000. Reuters reports that with two larger SUVs joining the CX-50 by 2023, Guyton sees sales jumping further. "We do see a significant increase coming from CX-50, and the CX-70 and CX-90," he said. "Maybe those don't all mature in 2022, but by the middle of the decade, I would hope that we're on par for 450,000 in the U.S." For more on Mazda’s outlook, click here.

Volvo CEO says new sales record 'within reach'

Volvo Cars' goal to sell 800,000 vehicles globally by 2020 was derailed by the pandemic and by the semiconductor shortage in 2021. Despite the setbacks, CEO Hakan Samuelsson believes that topping Volvo's sales record of 705,452 vehicles set in 2019 is "within reach," even though the automaker took a big hit to production in the third quarter. Samuelsson also outlined the lingering effects of the pandemic on Volvo's business and shared how the newly listed automaker will consistently achieve a profit margin of 8 to 10 percent in an interview with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc. He discusses the outlook for 2022, the chip crisis, and how the pandemic still impacting business (“When it comes to the day-to-day basis, here in Sweden we are back to normal”). For a transcript of the full interview, including some insight on the upcoming flagship SUV that will replace the XC90, click here.

Here Are Features Some New Cars Won't Get Because of the Chip Shortage

Effects of the ongoing semiconductor-chip shortage on the new-car market can be seen in headlines across the world, but the problem encompasses more than just a reduction in the number of new vehicles. When the chip supply tightened, some companies paused entire production lines for some vehicles, and decided to keep building others while removing some of the less-vital high-tech features that require chips. It kept production lines moving and people working. So, Car & Driver decided to collect a list of models and technologies that will not (or did not) match the original spec sheet because certain components have been removed to reduce the number of chips needed per vehicle. This is not an exhaustive list, but it does show the breadth and depth of how the chip shortage is affecting the auto industry, even as new cars are built and sold. On it is some of BMW’s touchscreen functionality, Cadillac’s Super Cruise, Chevy’s HD radio, and Mercedes-Benz’s wireless smartphone charging pads. For the complete list, and when some of these features can be expected to return, click here.

Toyota's All-Electric bZ4x is Coming to U.S. with Up To 250 Miles of Range

The Toyota bZ4x, the first electric vehicle under the automaker's new bz brand, will come to U.S. in mid-2022 with an estimated range of up to 250 miles. Click here to see it. According to Yahoo News, the vehicle is nearly identical to the Subaru Solterra, which along with the bZ4x was showcased at the Los Angeles Auto Show that kicked off Nov. 17. Both the bZ4x and the Solterra are the product of a partnership between Toyota and Subaru to jointly develop a platform dedicated to battery electric vehicles.  The all-electric vehicle is part of Toyota's all-of-the-above approach to lower carbon emissions — a stance it is sticking to even as the industry has homed in on a battery electric centric approach. During an event this week, Toyota executives repeated the company's strategy to offer a range of mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. For more on the bZ4x, and Toyota’s plans for the entire “Beyond Zero” brand, click here.

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