The all new 2018 Hyundai Kona small crossover SUV (XSUV) has just been shown to the press in an event held, wait for it, on the Kona Coast of The Big Island of Hawaii. There were 23 or 24 Konas on hand for the journalists to drive around the island. So, this was a pretty big event for Hyundai Motor America (HMA).
In AutoPacific’s 2017 Small XSUV Consultancy, 38 XSUVs with a wheelbase of 110-inches or less are included. There were enough data to do complete analyses on that many individual vehicles. There are an additional seven all new small XSUVs on sale now but too new to have been included in the AutoPacific database. That makes 45 entries in the small XSUV category. Now comes the 2018 Hyundai Kona wading into the fray.
The mid-size sedan market is extremely competitive, but has been losing sales to the booming crossover sport utility vehicle market. SUVs provide the usefulness buyers want without making the sacrifices that used to be required. Carmakers now can make their cars "cars" again.
Mazda is developing its vehicles to compete against luxury brands. This Mazda Premium strategy will ultimately improve Mazda's image with dealers and consumers. Well done, Mazda Premium products should achieve higher profits per vehicle.
About 50 years after first launching the Fiat 124 Spider in the United States, Fiat is launching a new Spider in Summer 2017. The last time the Fiat 124 Spider was sold in the USA was in 1983. To gain a desirable roadster without having to develop the car themselves, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) turned to Mazda.
Mazda has changed its advertising tag line from “Zoom Zoom” to “Driving Matters.” “Zoom Zoom” has been around seemingly forever, since about 2000. At first, Mazda’s products did not live up to the “Zoom Zoom” tag line, so now that they do, the tag line is changed to a more mature “Driving Matters”. “Zoom Zoom” is still there, but in a secondary position to “Driving Matters”.
“Driving Matters” fits with the attitude that people who buy a Mazda product are more enthusiastic about driving than buyers of most other mainstream brands. Mazda does not want to sell an appliance – transportation from point A to point B – they want to sell a vehicle with an active, sporty driving experience that their owners embrace.
AutoPacific, an automotive specialist research and product planning consultancy, forecasts that trucks, including XSUVs will be about 60% of the market for the foreseeable future. In fact, reading the crystal ball for the next five years, this percentage of the mix may be low.
Fun to Drive a Key Strategy Interviews with top Mazda executives at the Tokyo Motor Show reinforced their commitment to producing vehicles that are fun to drive from the get-go. This is a key difference for the small Japanese automaker. Mazda wants to "refresh the heart and soul with the joy of driving". Mazda North American Operations' "Driving Matters" tag line is serious.
The rotary engine is the "Heart of Mazda", but unfortunately the company does not have a rotary engine in production now and may not in the future. The last rotary engine was in the Mazda RX-8 which was dropped in 2012. The rotary in that car could not meet the tougher emissions standards being adopted around the world, so the car and engine are history for the time being. Today, a group of 50 Mazda engineers continue to try to break the code of rotary engine emissions, fuel economy and reliability - all very tough challenges. With such a small group, likely with a limited budget, it seems like the hope for a rotary engine anytime in the future is dim.
Cheap and cheerful is gone. The 2016 Honda Civic sedan has raised the bar for a compact car to new levels. After realizing that the 9th generation 2012 Civic was a dud, and quickly adding band-aids for 2013, Honda has gotten very, very serious with the all new 10th generation Civic. In fact, for awhile there the automotive analyst and journalist community was sensing Honda was losing its mojo. After updates to the Accord, the new Pilot, the HR-V and now the New 2016 Honda Civic, it is clear Honda is back. Honda's development name for the new Civic is "EPIC" Civic and it fits. To achieve this "epicness" Honda benchmarked not only the usual suspects, but also the C-Class entries from Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
Raising the Bar in a Competitive Segment The Koreans keep getting better and the new 2016 Hyundai Tucson (product code TL) is an example of how Hyundai has executed a segment-beater. Competing against big sellers Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, Ford Escape, Jeep Cherokee, Chevrolet Equinox, Mazda CX-5, etc. the new Tucson checks all the boxes. It is well styled and immediately identifiable as a Hyundai (looks almost too much like the Santa Fe Sport). It has a great package - good visibility, spacious front and rear seating, good cargo room, easy ingress/egress. The fit and finish is excellent inside and out. The interior trim materials have moved upwards - almost up to the next higher price class.