March 28th, 2012
Plans for a new home built on Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s beachfront La Jolla, Calif. property call for the ultimate split-level garage, complete with a car elevator. Romney’s Batcave will feature space for four cars and the capability to easily ferry them to and from the ground floor. We don’t have official photos, but his garage probably looks something like this.
The Romney’s current house in a pricey San Diego-area district will be demolished to make way for a new 8,105-sq-ft. home, including an outdoor shower, the previously mentioned uber-garage and a 3,600 sq-ft. underground living quarters. Estimates place construction costs at $12 million. Romney paid a lobbyist $21,500 in an attempt to expedite the building process with the city.
Romney family La Jolla, Calif. estate. (Google Maps)
The son of a former American Motors CEO, Romney is a genuine car American car lover, counting a Ford Mustang, a Nash Rambler American, two Cadillac SRXs and a Chevy Silverado pickup among his family rides.
September 1st, 2011
August U.S. auto sales data brought better-than-expected news for the automotive industry, with most brands showing healthy gains. Despite Hurricane Irene shortening the sales month for many dealers on the east coast and the lingering effects of the Japan natural disasters, consumers are still flocking to car lots.
Detroit’s Big 3 all gained ground in August. GM sales were up 18.2% over the same month in 2010, riding on the strength of the hot-selling Chevrolet Cruze compact, which has moved more than 20,000 units for 5 straight months. Ford sales were up 11.3%. Chrysler saw a gain of a healthy 30.6%, its surprisingly hot Jeep brand once again leading the charge.
Honda and Toyota continued to struggle, with year-over-year sales dips of 12.7% and 27%, respectively. Nissan was a bright spot among the Japanese with sales up 19%, leap-frogging Honda to move in behind GM, Ford, Chrysler, Hyundai/Kia and Toyota in total sales.
July 7th, 2011
Generation Y, the name given to refer those 80 million individuals born between approximately 1982 and the early 2000s, has become extremely important to the automotive industry. According to a study by Deloitte LLP, “Gen Y” will make up 40% of the new car buying population by the end of 2012. A surprising trend has developed among this population with Asian cars clearly favored over other brands, especially American ones.
2012 Ford Focus
Taking a look at the top 10 brands with the highest percentage of Gen Y uptake (chart below) reveals not a single American automaker among the bunch according car buyers surveyed by TrueCar.com. Seven Japanese, two South Korean and one European brand round out the top 10 with the top American company, Ford, not slotting in until #15. Favorite models among Gen Y new car buyers paint a similar picture with the new 2012 Ford Focus the only American car cracking the top 20. At #5, the brand-new Focus should be a hit for Ford among this hotly targeted group.
Other information can be gleaned from the survey. Nearly all the top 20 models are fuel-efficient compact and subcompact cars. Gen Y clearly counts fuel economy, stand-out styling and interior technology as top priorities, while sports-car performance and interior room seem to have taken a back seat. What do American companies need to do to court Gen Y? There’s a lot of high-paid executives trying to figure that out right now.
July 1st, 2011
Even in the age of a globalized automotive industry, buying an American car is still a great way to support this great nation’s economy. As we approach our country’s independence day let’s pause to take a look at some of the most all-American car models currently on sale, their history and what they mean to the industry today.
Nothing shouts “USA!” like apple pie, baseball and the Ford Mustang. Now in its 49th model year of continuous production, the Mustang ushered in the pony car era in American car building, combining a small, light chassis with big V8 power. The Mustang is Ford’s brand image car and has stayed true to its roots all these years, still one of the most exciting affordable sporty cars on the market. Bet on Ford having something truly special set up for the Mustang’s upcoming 50th anniversary.
The Dodge Charger name originally stood for a big, brash and powerful two-door muscle car making its debut the mid 1960s. Today the 1966-1970 Chargers are some of the most sought-after classic American cars with restored models commanding tens of thousands of dollars at auction. Critics balked when it was revealed that the 2006 Charger would sport four doors, though by retaining rear-wheel drive and HEMI V8 power Chrysler managed to create a full-size offering with a little more grunt than its competitors. Now if they could only solve reliability problems…
While the Chevrolet Silverado name was not given to Chevy’s full-size pickup line until the 1999 model year, Chevrolet’s pickup actually dates all the way back to 1930. The Silverado and its GMC Sierra clone combine for a significant new car market share every year, outselling most passenger cars as the demand for a good work truck will never go away. Each year the Ford F-150 and the Silverado/Sierra battle for supremacy in sales and quality with both models getting better and better as the bar is continuously raised. Competition is good, and in the end, the consumer wins.
With a name like “Patriot” it is clear that Chrysler’s Jeep brand is going for that all-American brand image with its compact-midsize crossover. The Patriot fills the niche between the larger Liberty and surprise-hit Grand Cherokee models at one end and the pint-sized Jeep Compass crossover at the other. Powered by fairly efficient four-cylinder engines and with available four-wheel drive, the Patriot is one of the least expensive true SUVs that money can buy with decent capabilities on bad roads and polite manners on good ones.
Dodge’s RAM 1500 is the perennial third-place finisher in U.S. pickup truck sales behind the F-150 and Chevy Silverado. That said, the RAM still brings in big cash for Chrysler in a notoriously profitable market segment. To help catapult the model, Chrysler started selling the RAM under its own brand, RAM Trucks, rather than as a Dodge. The big bruiser still features a Dodge logo here and there, though. Our favorite RAM truck since the model’s 1981 introduction? The 2004-2006 Viper V10 engine-equipped Dodge RAM SRT-10, naturally, with over 500 horsepower and absolutely dreadful fuel economy.
Now in its second model generation, the Jeep Liberty slots in just below the Grand Cherokee in Jeep’s North American lineup. Known as the Cherokee in other international markets, the Liberty is powered by a 3.7-liter PowerTech V6 and as a truck-based SUV it is more capable on the trails than Jeep’s Compass and Patriot. With names like “Patriot” and “Liberty” Chrysler is clearly courting buyers who want something distinctly American from its Jeep brand. The sales results are good as Jeep has been absolutely key to Chrysler’s financial turnaround.
Both the 200 and 300 are the poster children for Chrysler’s highly successful “Imported From Detroit” ad campaign, complete with stirring commercials featuring Eminem and Dr. Dre. While the 200 still shows some of the DNA of the lackluster Sebring which it replaced, at the very least it is a better-looking and more compelling model. The 300 is now in its second model generation and has been a bright spot all throughout Chrysler’s dark times. Its big, broad-shouldered footprint and classy lines earned it the nickname “the Baby Bentley,” and the 2012 model is even better looking than its predecessor.
If there is any sporty car that can challenge the Mustang for the “All-American” title it’s Chevrolet’s Camaro. The other pony car debuted for 1967 to immediate critical and buyer acclaim, then soldiered on through four model generations before stopping production in 2002. By that time the Camaro had lost its way and was still based on GM’s ancient F-body platform. For 2010 an all-new Camaro roared back as a compelling competitor once again, actually outselling the Mustang for calendar-year 2010. A starring role in the Transformers film series hasn’t hurt, either.
While Jeep has expanded over the years into a full lineup catering to SUV buyers of every persuasion, it is the Wrangler that stays truest to Jeep’s World War II military vehicle roots. The Wrangler nameplate only goes back as far as 1987 right before Jeep’s acquisition by Chrysler from American Motors. That said, the off-road-ready Wrangler is a direct spiritual successor to the historic Willys MB “Jeep” that helped the Allies win the war. Today it is arguably the best stock vehicle in which to do some serious offroading.
Think the best-selling vehicle in America is a Toyota Camry? A Honda Accord, maybe? Wrong. Ford’s industry-standard F-Series pickup has been the best-selling new vehicle in the U.S. market for the last 29 consecutive years. The reason behind all the success? Simply put, Americans love trucks, and no one does them better than Ford. Barring any unforeseen circumstances at Ford it will be good hardworking folks shelling out their hard-earned cash year after year for a new F-Series, keeping the auto industry’s most successful model line to date on top.
The Big 3 in Detroit have been hard at work improving their offerings in an effort to convince you to buy American for your next car purchase. Will one of these 10 great cars find its home in your driveway?