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“Trucks” to Continue to Outsell Cars – XSUV Segment


500 wide Car Truck Sales 1987-2021500 wide Car Truck Mix 1987-2021AutoPacific, 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.  The charts above detail how cars and truck sales and market penetration have evolved since 1987 and the forecast for the future.

The hottest product segment in the American light vehicle market is the crossover SUV (XSUV).  A crossover SUV can be as large as a Chevrolet Traverse or as small as a Chevrolet Trax.  There are dozens of XSUVs in between.  And there will be more.

The XSUV segment has become so hot because this type of vehicle corrects the criticisms buyers had of traditional SUVs which sold very well, but were not optimal.  Buyers wanted products that were not hard-core off-roaders, but more civilized and city friendly.  The SUV market exploded in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee.  It wasn’t until 1996 that the crossover SUV began slipping into the marketplace.  First the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V appeared.  They were followed by the luxury crossover RX300.  Clearly the manufacturers were listening and reacting.

Here are just a few of the things we know about the evolution of the SUV market over the next five years…

Cadillac  Cadillac states that it has too few XSUVs (one, the upcoming XT5) and wants to add two or three more to its lineup while adding one more car as a range topper between now and 2020.

Buick  Buick is adding the small Envision XSUV to its lineup this Spring.  Envision is assembled in China.

FCA Drops Cars to Add XSUV and Pickup Capacity  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is dropping its Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart in favor of more capacity for XSUVs and pickups.  The Ram pickup will take over the FCA Sterling Heights, Michigan Plant when the Chrysler 200 is dropped.  FCA’s huge Belvidere, Ilinois plant will be populated by XSUVs when the Jeep Compass and Patriot plus the Dodge Dart fade away.

Toyota Pushing RAV4  Toyota Motor Sales has stated that they would not be surprised if the RAV4 XSUV overtook the Camry mid-size car as its best selling product.  Camry was the best selling car in the USA in 2015.

Lexus will add a 3-row XSUV above the RX350 in the next few years.500 wide SUV XSUV Sales 1987-2021500 wide SUV XSUV Mix of SUV 1987-2021


The charts above show the impact of crossover SUVs on the light truck market.  Huge volume increase and market share increase.

Hyundai Aggressively Adding XSUV Capacity  Hyundai is replacing 50,000 units of car capacity in its Montgomery, Alabama assembly plant with the Santa Fe Sport.  That drops capacity for the Hyundai Sonata and Elantra from 400,000 to 350,000 units per year.  Hyundai admits that they underestimated the demand for XSUVs years ago.  This capacity move reacts to market demand and dealer pressure to get Hyundai dealers more XSUVs that are easier to sell and require less incentives and discounting.

Hyundai will add 45,000 units to its Tucson compact XSUV volume this year.  Built in South Korea, Tucson has been limited because it is popular around the world and the vehicle was capacity constrained.

Hyundai also recognizes there is a hole at the bottom of their XSUV lineup and are adding a sub-compact B-Segment XSUV to fill that hole.  There is a possibility that a smaller A-Segment XSUV will replace the Hyundai Accent hatchback.

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2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Hybrid Car


Mer_10_Milan_Hybrid.jpgThe Mercury Milan Hybrid took top honors in the Hybrid Car Vehicle Satisfaction award category. The Milan Hybrid was top rated in such critical areas as fuel economy and environmental friendliness. Its satisfaction was also top in class with respect to innovative technology and vehicle range.
Both standard Sync and the EcoGuide instrument cluster, which provides encouragement for a fuel-efficient driving style and allows customers to adjust the level of feedback they get on their driving habits, likely contributed to the high technology ranking. Whether the challenge of efficient driving or the good dynamics Ford dialled in to the Milan are the reason, the Mercury took best-in-class score for the elusive fun-to-drive category, too.
For a complete list of winners and description of the Awards, click here.

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AutoPacific Rising Star Winner – Hyundai


Hyundai is the winner of the first Rising Star Award from AutoPacific. The Rising Star Award is given to the brand climbing the most positions in AutoPacific’s Vehcile Satisfaction Award research. Hyundai climbed eleven positions year-to-year. This is testament to Hyundai Motor America and Hyundai dealers selling vehicles that satisfy their customers and good customer handling at the dealerships.
Hyundai had two category winning vehicles – the Hyundai Genesis won the Aspirational Luxury Car Category and the Sonata won the Premium Mid-Size Car Category.
Other Rising Stars were Infiniti climbing ten positions and Mercury climbing nine.

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Top Safety Picks by Insurance Institute of Highway Safety


The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has announced the winners of its 2009 Top Safety Picks. There are 72 winners in 2009; more than double in 2008 and more than 3 times as many as in 2007. Some key factors leading to winning results are better structure to protect from side impacts and increased application of electronic stability control which helps maintain control and minimize rollovers. Additionally, improved headrests are doing a better job protecting against whiplash.


IIHS works for auto insurers and publishes the results of its Top Safety Picks to help consumers select the safest cars and light trucks when they are in the market. AutoPacific’s research shows that safety features and feeling safe while driving are very important when a person selects their vehicle.
Ford Wins 16 Top Safety Picks – almost 25% of Those Awarded
A major result of the 2009 Top Picks was that Ford Motor Company (including Volvo) had 16 of the 72 Top Picks. Several years ago, after Ford acquired Volvo, Ford began adopting Volvo safety strategies in its designs. Several Ford vehicles are derived from the Volvo S80 platform – Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, Ford Taurus X, Mercury Sable, Ford Flex, Volvo S80. Using Volvo’s vaunted SIPS (Side Impact Protection System), Ford has been able to make its larger vehicles able to withstand significant blows from the side.
The Ford Fusion with ESC and Mercury Milan with ESC, Lincoln MKZ, Volvo C70, Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX, Volvo XC90, Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Ford F-150 also won IIHS Top Safety Picks for 2009.
Honda Comes In Second – Close Behind Ford
Coming in close behind Ford Motor Company products was another company that set an objective to become a safety leader several years ago. American Honda has Top Safety Picks for Acura RL, Acura TL, Acura TSX, Acura MDX, Acura RDX, Honda Accord 4-doors, Honda Civic 4-doors with ESC, Honda Fit, Honda Odyssey, Honda Pilot, Honda CRV, Honda Element and Honda Ridgeline. The Honda Fit is the first Economy (Mini) Car to achieve an IIHS Top Safety Pick.
• • • • •

The IIHS Press Release Is shown below the fold.

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2008 Mercury Milan – Boring but Good


Ah yes, the Mercury Milan, the upscale sister ship to the Ford Fusion. Aimed at younger buyers who want something a little more sophisticated than the Dodge Avenger or Mitsubishi Galant. Mercury aims the Milan at the Nissan Altima, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry buyer. We definitely wanted to take a closer look.

08 Milanfrnt3:4 350.jpg

To be honest it’s very rare for a 4-door mid-size car from Mercury to really knock my socks off. In terms of sex appeal I typically think Mercury ranks right up there with… well, Buick (that’s right, there isn’t any sex appeal – alright the new Buick Enclave has a little). With that said, I must admit the Milan is a great mid-size car. It really does have a few things going for it – style, comfort, and value. It was one of those cars I didn’t want to like but ended up enjoying. Just promise me you won’t quote me.
The Milan we received as an evaluation vehicle did have all the bells and whistles. It was the V6 Premier AWD, very nicely equipped at $28,915 (which according to our data is about the median price of a new vehicle in 2008). Our particular Milan was equipped with the 3.0L V6, 6-speed automatic, and all-wheel-drive. The window sticker boasted EPA fuel economy at 17 city and 25 hwy, with our particular vehicle averaging 19.9mpg (both city and highway), which we thought was decent but not spectacular for a vehicle with a V6 and AWD. Maybe a front-wheel-drive version wouldn’t zap our fuel economy.

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Ford's MyKey: Who Says Parents Can't Control Your Speed?


And turn that radio down!
Today’s teens have grown up in a world of fluid and ever-expanding technology, with their parents using everything from V-chips to internet blockers to teddy-bear babysitting cams to GPS trackers to keep better track of them. For many, it is simply part of their world. Parents and kids have the same trust issues to sort through, just the same as when I was a kid and didn’t think my mom had any right to go through MY dresser, but parents have more direct tools at their disposal now.
Add one more to the arsenal. Ford is introducing the latest electronic nanny next year (2010MY) across several model lines, including the Focus. The system will be a no-cost option or standard equipment, depending on model. It turns out to be an inexpensive way to help teens stay focused in early driving years, when they are the least experienced, and for parents to feel better about teens driving.

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Mercury Sable Wins AutoPacific 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award for Large Car



The Large Car category featured competition between the Sable, Taurus and Avalon. In the end, owners’ scores ranked the Sable as the ideal Large Car. It was the Sable’s scores for visibility, interior storage and handling that really helped outpace the competition.

Posted in: Awards, Mercury

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Mercury Grand Marquis Wins AutoPacific 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award for Large Luxury Car


Grand Marquis.jpg

A perennial favorite for Mercury, the large, spacious and comfortable Grand Marquis won the 2008 Ideal Vehicle Award in the Large Luxury Car segment. With large cargo space, appropriate exterior styling, V8 power and acceleration and easy ingress/egress it’s no wonder owners rated the Grand Marquis an Ideal Vehicle.

Posted in: Awards, Mercury

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AutoPacific Announces 2008 Ideal Vehicle Awards


IVA main.jpg

Tustin, California, June 30, 2008 – An “ideal” is defined as an excellent or perfect example. In the annual Ideal Vehicle Awards (IVA), announced today by automotive research and consulting firm AutoPacific, owners rate their new 2008 model year cars and trucks by how close they come to their ideal, as measured by 15 key vehicle attributes. The cars or trucks that owners would change the least are the most ideal.

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Volkswagen Jetta and Mercury Milan Win AutoPacific 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award in the Mid-Size Car Segment


Jetta VSA.jpg

The Volkswagen Jetta is top-ranked in the Mid-Size Car Segment, winning its 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award based on some traditional Volkswagen strengths, such as Fun to Drive, Braking and Handling. Owner ratings in these important dynamic areas were complemented by strong ratings in Feeling Safe While Driving, Safety Features and Overall Quality.
Milan VSA.jpg

The Mercury Milan ranks at the top of the Mid-Size Car category, winning the 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Award with strong ratings for Styling and Feeling Safe While Driving. In the two years Milan has been on the market, it has established a Reputation valued by its owners. Milan owners rate their Experience with their Lincoln-Mercury Dealer highly and find the Milan a good Value for the Money.

Posted in: Awards, Mercury, Volkswagen

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