General Motors Regains Sales Crown

After three years of being bested by Toyota, General Motors is once again the world’s best selling automaker. General Motors sold 9,025,942 in 2011, a 7.6 percent increase over last year’s figures. General Motors even bested Volkswagen, who have made it a public goal to become the biggest automaker on the block. Toyota trailed both GM and VW though, whose sales dropped 6 percent in 2011.

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October Sales Results: Chrysler and VW Post Big Gains

Although the economy continues to lurch toward recovery at a snail’s pace, some automakers are defying expectations, and posting big gains on the sale charts. For the month of October, the big winners were Chrysler and Volkswagen. Chrysler sold 21,244 cars last month, a 28% increase when compared to October of 2010. High demand for the recently revised 200 and 300 sedans and high incentives helped bring traffic to the showrooms.

Volkswagen was another winner. They sold 28,028 cars last month, a 40% increase from October of last year. Volkswagen points to strong sales of their recently redesigned Passat sedan as the reason for drawing more sales. The good news is not expected to stop as November starts either.

Many automakers and analysts expected strong October sales, and are claiming high sales to continue through November. Although the economy is still a blight on auto sales, analysts expect outside variables to drive sales forward. First, they claim there is a lot of pent up demand for new vehicles since the age of the average car in this country is 11 years old. Secondly, inventory levels are returning to pre-quake levels for the Japanese manufacturers. Finally, a combination of high used car prices and incentives on new car purchases may sway consumers to purchase new cars instead of used ones. The fourth quarter of this year for automakers is shaping up to be much better than expected.

Source: Automotive News

  

There I Fixed It: VW Beetle’s Gender Problem

Think tanks are a wonderful thing. Where else can you publish pages of biased research, get paid tons of money for it, and then have no accountability if your results are used? Car enthusiasts need their own think tank. Dashboard News is filling this void with lukewarm, soft facts with our new feature: “There I Fixed It.” In this column, we make somewhat logical solutions to an automaker’s problems. No rants about manual, diesel hatchbacks for under $25k here, our rants have data and evidence, sort of. So read on, and make sure to put your own thoughts on the subject, or new problems, in the comments below.

The first automaker to need our help is VW. On a quest to become the world’s largest automaker, VW has both decreased prices and content on some cars (Jetta), and has strengthened their niche offerings (New New Beetle) to attract more sales. However, they want the New Beetle to be bought by both girls and boys this time, instead of mostly girls like last time. AP details some of the efforts VW made to make the Beetle “manly”, such as boost gauges, bolder lines, and a stereo from Fender. But here’s the problem, the Beetle will never be manly.

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New VW Phaeton for 2015

If you don’t remember the VW Phaeton, then you are lucky. For those that do, they will remember it as was one of the most boneheaded product decisions known to man. The Phaeton was a joint product between VW and Bentley. Bentley’s version was the wildly successful Continental GT (as seen in any rap video that involves champagne and girls dancing). The Phaeton did not fare so well. Reason being, it offered the cost and complexity of a Bentley, with the image of a VW. So, the nearly 100k car sat on dealersihp lots until it left the U.S. market in 2006. However, it has survived overseas and is set for a return.

Car magazine reports that we almost saw a new Phaeton during the Frankfurt Auto Show a couple weeks ago. However, VW is full steam ahead on creating a brand new Phaeton for 2015. They don’t seem to know why though:

Even after the third facelift, the Phaeton can still only field one truly strong point, and that is the beautifully finished cabin which matches any Bentley even though the layout is about as contemporary as a Biedermeier sideboard, and the electronics tend to lag at least one generation behind the leaders.

It is an open secret that the next Phaeton will be styled from the inside out, matching a top-notch but less olde worlde interior to a much more timely exterior. How do we define timely? This is a question VW will have to answer in the course of next year. Before the summer break, three options were being discussed: another three-box notchback, a rather stylish five-door hatchback, and an elegant and luxurious Super-Variant.

Sounds like they are headed for the same mistake as last time; they should call it the Titanic II instead.

Source: Car Magazine

  

VW Up! Reviewed by Evo

When the VW Beetle debuted, it was meant as a cheap car for mass consumption. Now, it is merely a large, retro, fashion accessory that makes some murky link to its origins. However, a true Beetle successor does exist, but it is only available in Europe.

It is called the Up!, and it is meant to offer cheap, stylish, dependable transportation for lots of people. Sound familar? It may not have an air-cooled engine in the back, but it does have many cool engineering tricks to keep size and price small. European car amgazine Evo points out a few of them:

So the production Up has the usual front engine, front-wheel drive and torsion beam rear axle, but the engine is a new, all-aluminium, three-cylinder unit of 1.0 litre and either 60 or 95bhp. There will also be a 68bhp CNG version with just 79g/km CO2 when mated to the robotised manual transmission option. The Up is just over 3.5m long, weighs under a tonne (as you would hope) and has very short overhangs. At the front this is achived by mounting the radiator to the left side of the engine instead of in front of it.

As for how it drives:

Not remotely rapid. The 1.0-litre, 75bhp, 108g/km, five-speed manual takes 13.2sec to hit 62mph and runs out of steam at 106mph, and you need to stoke the engine mercilessly to stay with torquey, turbodiesel-powered traffic. But, as with many three-pots, it’s a very likeable engine with a deep, smooth note and a response keener than than the figurtes suggest. Unusually for a triple, it has no balancer shaft. This small engine’s reciprocating masses are too low to need balancing.

This is a light, airy car, beautifully made and detailed, and designed in the kind of industrial way that suits the painted-metal door edges and the lack of any padding. The dashboard is glossy, and body-coloured in most versions, and on it sits, optionally, a Navigon sat-nav/economy meter/control screen which you can take out and use, Tom-Tom-like, for on-foot navigation. It will talk to your phone, too.

The Up! will not be coming stateside, but it is nice to know that there are useful, attractive, and cheap cars out there.

For the full review, check out the article here.

  

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