Revving Up Production in US Market and Abroad

Several automakers announced during press previews at the L.A. Auto Show more aggressive plans to increase production at US assembly plants, partly to offset currency fluctuations and also to meet demand in the US and overseas. Highlights include:

• Volkswagen Group, which has a relatively new plant in Chattanooga, TN, where it builds the Passat that was named “Motor Trend Car of the Year,” is investing in the US market, according to Jonathan Browning, CEO and president, because VW expects to sell more than 300,000 vehicles in the United States this year. VW’s new CC, which will go on sale in the first quarter of 2012, is expected to be a “Top Safety Pick” with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Browning said. Continue reading ›

Performance Returns as a Mainstay in a Recovering Auto Industry

More than half a dozen mass-market and premium brands displayed models with higher-horsepower powertrains at this week’s L.A. Auto Show, many with the capability to hit speeds nearing 200 mph without limiters.

Ford introduced a new Shelby Mustang GT500 with an engine that exuded 650 horsepower.

• The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 convertible will be equipped with a 580-horsepower supercharged V-8.

BMW showed one of its performance models, the M5, powered by its most powerful street engine—a 560-horsepower unit that can propel the M5 to 60 mph in 4 seconds, according to the automaker. Continue reading ›

More Electric and “Green” Entries are Added to Automaker Lineups

Although green entries did not get all the attention at this year’s L.A. Auto Show  this past week, a number of automakers featured fuel-efficient models. A few observations after the press previews and the show:

Honda remains a green leader and promoted its electric vehicle (EV) capabilities at the L.A. Auto Show. In addition to showing its new 2012 CR-V with better fuel efficiency, one of California’s best-selling automakers debuted an all-electric Fit subcompact for 2013. The new EV comes in a 5-door, 5-passenger package and can be recharged using a 240-volt charger in less than 3 hours. The Fit EV can be leased from Honda for $399 per month. Some 1,000 EV demos will be placed on the road this year in a pilot program involving the city of Torrance, CA, Stanford University and Google. On another green note, Honda’s Civic Natural Gas model was named “2012 Green Car of the Year” by the Green Car Journal. Continue reading ›

New Crossovers Dominate Mass-Market and Premium Debuts at L.A. Auto Show

Crossovers continued to pull their weight among major introductions at the L.A. Auto Show. A few of the introductions featured in the segment that is favored by nearly one of every four or five new-car buyers:

Ford introduced its new 2013 Escape with sleek styling changes that take cues from its Focus sibling and simpler, enhanced telematics—Sync with MyFord Touch—and more fuel-efficient 4-cylinder engine options as well as a remote liftgate feature. A new version of the Ford Flex midsize CUV also was unveiled, featuring a slightly less dramatic front end, but new inflatable seat belts to protect children and older passengers. Continue reading ›