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Posts Tagged ‘Hyundai’

The State of U.S. Auto Market and Domestic Makers

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Detroit! Detroit! Detroit! Seriously thought, seems like just yesterday the U.S auto market was in the state if gloomy confusion and some housekeeping needed to be done. The plummeting sales of all auto manufacturers around the world were linked to the energy crisis which made oil go for about $147/barrel in July of 2008. Unfortunately the big 3; GM, Chrysler and Ford got the worst of it. Ignoring the signs of the economy they kept producing cars that were at the forefront of their best selling vehicles for decades – the gas guzzling SUVs and Trucks. While their Asian counterparts were converting their cars to more fuels efficient and less gas hungry by including Hybrid propulsion mills and engines with less displacement in each line-up. The gas prices made U.S cars less appealing to the consumers, in desperation to keep the market share they turned to substantial discounts and rebates which in return sunk them completely and forced the bailout of GM and Chrysler.

Now comes 2012, which brings the global doubt of the financial markets caused mostly by European sovereign debt issue leaving European auto market in, let us say “uncertainty”. Brazil China and India are most likely to have very aggressive discount rates, as it is usually expected in emerging markets. However the story is very different for U.S. In 2011 all 3 domestic manufacturers took market share for the first time in 23 years, the analysts and auto makers are very optimistic about the upcoming year. Unemployment still high but steadily falling, the U.S private sector added some 325,000 payrolls in December of 2011 and the real median annual household income adjusted for inflation rose 2.7% since August of last year. As economic indicators point to the recovery in the economy, we might not feel it in our wallets just yet, but still the 4% growth of auto sales from last year is expected to skyrocket to 9% by the end of 2012. Now this brings good and bad news for the American auto makers. The good news is that the business conditions are getting better all you need is the demanded vehicles. The bad news are “there will be blood” – this year the competition will be fierce as Toyota and Honda rebound from last year’s dismay and Volkswagen is aggressively aiming to be the number one auto manufacturer in the world.

As for the vehicles demanded, after the previous automotive crisis the domestic manufacturers learned their lesson and will bounce back stronger than ever. This takes us to the International Detroit Auto Show where some proof of “lesson learned” can be found. Righ away we start with introduction of Chevy’s Sonic RS, equipped with a 1.4-litre 138 hp turbo and available in a six speed manual transmission, this looks like a vehicle that will be very appealing to the enthusiast out there, it has been a while since domestic automakers came up with something new to match the enthusiast scene dominated by the Japanese vehicles.

Along with Sonic RS Chevy introduced 2 very interesting concepts that are aimed at the affordable compact sports car sector. The 2 Chevy cars “Code130R” and “Tru140S” have a better appeal to them than they are named. Both equipped with a turbocharged 1.4-litre inline four with eAssist hybrid tech improving fuel economy and efficiency. These vehicles have potential if only they will ever see production they might steal some market share for GM.

Chrysler after the merge with Fiat gets a new host of engines and transmissions which it utilizes to hit the compact sedan sector hard. The new Dodge Dart was introduced at Detroit with a base price of roughly $16,000 and the impressions of auto press seem to be nothing but good, Sonata should watch it’s back. Dart will feature 3 different power plants 2 of which are naturally aspired – 2.0-litre Tigershark inline four producing 160 hp and 148 lb-ft, 2.4-litre Tigershark four with 184-hp and 171-lb-ft and the anticipated 1.4-litre turbocharged MultiAir four with 160 hp and 184 lb-ft. The Dart is a product of Chrysler and Fiat merge and a vehicle with potential that can sneak up on Sonata, the best selling vehicle in the segment and gain some market share for Chrysler in the small car market.

Last but not least my favorite introduction from Ford, it is the all new redesigned Fusion. This car reminds me of an Aston Martin DB9 with the price tag of what the wheels cost on DB9. Ford Fusion was ranked the 3rd overall selling vehicles in the United States last year yet Ford performed a total makeover of the vehicle, the question is. Why? The answer seems to be that Ford in some sense learned the lessons well enough that it anticipated “blood will be spilled” in 2012 and got itself ready for automotive warfare. Ford seemed to notice that Toyota which lost market share due to lawsuits and callbacks, Honda which also lost market share due to Japan disaster, will eventually both recover and storm the market. It probably also took “Ze German” threats to take over the world very seriously which proved to be not merely talk after the introduction of their new Passat. The standard Fusion will be offered with 3 different engines 2.5-litre four cylinder for the base model with 170 hp and matching torque, the fuel efficient 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine with 179 hp and 172 lb-ft and the high performance 2.0 EcoBoost four-cylinder 237 hp and 250lb-ft. A plug-in Energi PHEV Fusion with expected rating better than Chevy Volt and Prius PLug-in and a standard Hybrid propulsion mill also will be offered.

Will domestic manufacturer see their golden years ever again? As the economy is on recovery and the market seems stronger than ever the cars that are introduced by U.S auto makers are not half bad, we are learning something from Japanese after all, but there is still much work to be done. Toyota which lost 2.3 % of U.S market last year and Honda which is still rebuilding inventory after Japan Tsunami will come back more aggressive than ever. Hyundai-Kia partnership and VW posted the biggest U.S sales for last year and both feel confident and aggressive to keep taking the market share. VW which is currently the #3 auto maker in the world, and only has 2.5 % stake of market in U.S is planning to double U.S share and become #1 in the world by 2018. Now is the time for domestic manufacturers to rebound and I think cars like the Fusion have the potential to execute a comeback for us.

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Sonata – Undisputed Middle-Weight Champion

February 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Hyundai Sonata continues to set the standards for the midsize sedan sector of the US auto industry. It’s reasonable price, reliability, fuel efficiency  and modern approach leaves nothing to contingency when it comes to competition. According to Compete, a Kantar Media company  Sonata was the most shopped vehicle in January of this year. More data shows that it has been sought for by the shoppers more than any other vehicle in the industry in 7 out of the last 9 months beating the all time leaders Camry, Accord, Civic and Fusion. Leading the Hyundai brand in sales which are up 58 percent in from lat year’s January, the Sonata sold 13,261 vehicles past month which is 150 percent increase from January of 2010, no make in the industry can match such a steep increase of sales.

Why is Sonata the number one pick for contemporary consumers? Maybe Forbes magazine can help us answer that question, after all they named Sonata “The Best Car for Commuters” of 2011. ” More than 42 million Americans spend at least 30 minutes in the car on their morning commute. Seven million spend over an hour.” said Forbes auto reporter, Hannah Eliot. ” For that kind of time spend in traffic, it pays to have a reliable car: something spacious enough for comfort,  small enough good gas mileage, and durable enough to withstand the occasional fender-bender.”  Does Sonata deserve all this homage from the Forbes? After all the mid-size segment has the most fierce competition in the industry and it’s filled with excellent vehicles.

Is it Spacious enough for comfort? At 192.7 inches in length, 72.8 width and 58.7 height it is the second largest vehicles in its class, with only Honda Accord winning at the exterior measurements. Albeit being smaller than Accord, on the interior Sonata offers a class winning 120.2 cubic feet of space, followed closely by the Accord with 140 cu. ft. – Hyundai engineers certainly deserve a round of applause for making the exterior sporty design which doesn’t compromise on the interior space. Sonata also offers 17 cubic ft of luggage space, which is the largest amount in the mid-size sedan sector. Yes, it really is spacious enough for a comfortable commute through congested city streets with extra space for all your wants and needs

Small enough for a good gas mileage? Well, maybe not small enough as we can see, how about the mileage?  For the sixth consecutive year, Sonata was recognized by the American Council of an Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on its annual “Greener Choices 2011” list. Sonata is the most fuel efficient non-hybrid car in its segment ranked at 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway, thanks to its all four-cylinder engine line-up. Again it has the Accord trailing in the second place of the mid-size sector offering 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway.

Is it durable enough to withstand the occasional fender-bender? “Build from the ground up with safety in mind” is what Hyundai says about 2011 Sonata. Hot-stamped ultra high strength steel body, advanced 6 airbag technology with standard side airbags, Electric Stability Control (ESC), and Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, deliver on Hyundai’s commitment on both active and passive safety technology leadership.  Federal Government Agency – The National Traffic Safety Administration awarded the Sonata five out of five possible stars for protection both driver and front passenger in front impact crashes, and five stars in protecting rear seat passengers in side impact crashes. However in the test to prevent rollover, the car was awarded four stars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Sonata its highest rating, “Good”  in both front and side impact crash test. Contradicting the results of the Federal Agency, the IIHS gave Sonata their highest rating in their new roof crash test , designed to measure the car’s ability to protect passengers during a rollover.

Awarded the “International Car of the Year” at the 2011 North American Auto Show in Detroit, named by The Car Connection the “Best Car To Buy in 2011”, named by the Midwest Automotive Media Association the “Family Vehicle of the Year” and named by the Automobile Magazine  the “Best Sedan in the Segment“, the 2011 Hyundai Sonata has accumulated an number of worthy titles to proclaim itself the champion in its class.  Introduced some 12 years ago to the hypercompetitive  American marketplace,  by an utterly mediocre carmaker, nobody envisioned the car to be an unquestionable leader in a segment with so many excellent vehicles. The car designed to look great inside and outside and at the same time meet and exceed the varied needs and wishes of the most demanding consumers in the world -Americans.  Responsive chassis, the most efficient and somewhat powerful direct-injected four cylinder engine, unbeatable pricetag, five star safety rating and great looks make  Sonata the pinnacle of the mid-size sedan segment, the mediocre Hyundai took the leading automakers by surprise, and they still don’t know what hit them.

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