Sunday, July 26, 2015

Automotive Reporter/Biz News for Wk of 7-27-15

Last week we shared with you a tale of woe from Jacksonville, Florida, where the proud owner of a new 2016 Mazda MX-5 found himself with the unenviable title of “first to crash a new Miata” among owners of the new Limited Edition ND cars.

I am happy to report Mazda North America Operations and Tom Bush Mazda went above and beyond the call of duty and good business practices. The manufacturer slotted a new car for the owner in the midst of the production run. The replacement MX-5 drops in the US August 15th. Mazda is taking back the wrecked model for forensic analysis.

This may tread into the realm of wonkishness, but the numbers are pretty impressive.
J. D. Power
and LMC Automotive are estimating U.S. new vehicle retail sales for July—this is the Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Selling Rate, or SAAR—will reach 14.0-Million units. That’s the highest level for the month since 2005.

July’s SAAR figures are nearly a half-million more than July 2014, and the strongest sales in a decade. What was going on in July 2005? SAAR reached 16.7-million units sold when automakers offered alleged “employee pricing” for everyone and his dog.

Autosales forecasters are predicting July sales will finish at 1,260,200-units. For a minute, I thought they’d confused their job with weather forecasters, because in Texas this week it’s been about a million-degrees.

“The average new-vehicle retail transaction price so far in July is $29,673,” says John D. Humphrey, Senior VP of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power. The record average transaction price for July was set last year, at $29,428.

My first, brand new car was a 1976 Honda CVCC Civic.
It was a 5-speed manual, and I paid extra for the A/C.
I subsequently owned four more Honda's over the next decade and a half. They’re fine automobiles.

Honda’s latest claim to fame is the 2016 Accord which will feature both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, in addition to a plethora of techie features. Honda says it’s the most high-tech Accord ever.

"Customers want their vehicles to be more intelligently integrated with their smartphone-powered lives, and we are committed to delivering that experience starting with Accord,” says John Mendel, Executive VP, Automobile Division, American Honda Motor Co.

The new Accord will be offered with two advanced Honda engines: a direct-injected (DI) 2.4-liter inline i-VTEC 4-cylinder, and a 3.5-liter VTEC V-6 that is the most powerful engine offered in a Honda sedan to date.

Until now, wheelchair-bound drivers’ choices for personal transportation were limited to larger minivans or full-sized vans, specially fitted with wheelchair accessible lifts. Ford Motor Company is marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act by rolling out the first wheelchair accessible SUV, based on the Ford Explorer. It's a doozy.

BraunAbility is working with Ford to “change the face of an industry, and bring creater mobility to people in wheelchairs.” The BraunAbility MXV is the company’s first-ever volume production SUV offering. 

The company has promised the first production model to wounded Marine veteran Mike Delancey, who was paralyzed by a sniper’s bullet while serving in Iraq in 2006.

The BraunAbility MXV features sliding-door technology, removable driver and passenger seats, and a powered, lighted in-floor ramp. With Explorer’s middle-row seat removed, the BraunAbility MXV provides interior space to fit the most common power wheelchair models, and its 56-inch cabin height provides a spacious interior for a comfortable ride.

If you’re a first-adopter, you’re going to want to get on the list for Toyota’s new hydrogen fuel cell electric, the Mirai. The company’s order request portal is up and running.

The Mirai combines hydrogen and oxygen to make electricity on-board, while emitting nothing but water vapor.  It has the highest EPA estimated driving range rating of any zero emission electric vehicle on the market, at 312 miles, and offers an EPA estimated 67 mpge city/highway/combined.

Toyota says production of the Mirai will be limited, and the vehicles will be placed with select, eligible customers.  After placing a request, potential Mirai drivers will be contacted directly by a Toyota representative to discuss ownership and next steps.  If you want one, you’ll have to drive to California to pick it up. Toyota is authorizing eight dealers between northern and southern Cali to handle the cars. MSRP will be $57,500 plus an $835 destination fee.

The Mirai ownership experience will include three years’ worth of complimentary fuel, three years’ complimentary Safety Connect and Entune, including a hydrogen station finder app. That feature may be worth its weight in gold…or hydrogen...because there are only a dozen hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S.—ten of them in California.

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