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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Honda’s packs N-Box

Honda Motor Co. wants to change their dowdy image on both counts with its next-generation N-Box, the best-selling nameplate in that uniquely Japanese niche segment.

The redesign, which hit the market Sept. 1, gets a revamped engine that prioritizes acceleration over fuel economy. It also gets the company’s latest advanced safety system, Honda Sensing, which includes such features as emergency automatic braking and lane-keep assist.

The flourishes are rarities in the world of Japanese minicars.

But Honda’s deployment underscores the proficiency of Japanese automakers in migrating higer-end features into down-market, downsized vehicles.

Honda hopes such upgrades will help the N-Box keep its title as Japan’s best-selling minicar for a third straight year, despite sluggish demand in the segment.

On the performance side, the N-Box sheds about 176 pounds by employing a new platform. Engineers also re- evaluated about 90 percent of the outgoing car’s components to find new opportunities for light-weighting.

Its naturally aspirated engine features variable valve timing and lift electronic control system, while the turbo version gets an electric wastegate for better turbo boost. Both are firsts for a Japanese minicar, Honda says.

The N-Box also goes high-tech with Honda Sensing coming standard on all grades

The N-Box has been a salvation for Honda’s minicar business. Prior to the first generation’s debut in December 2011, Honda was losing money in the segment and had even considered withdrawing, Chief Engineer Kiyonari Shirato said. The floundering minicar unit began to undermine profitability of domestic production.

But Honda redoubled its focus by developing the all-new N-Box series from scratch.

Since then, Honda has sold 1.67 million units. The model has captured the best-selling minicar title in fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2016, according to the Japan Light Motor Vehicle and Motorcycle Association and the Japan Automobile Dealers Association.Sales of the outgoing N-Box surged 11 percent in July to make it the nation’s

Dealers say the Auto

The newly launched Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index, released today, is the equivalent of a consumer confidence index, showing how U.S. dealers feel about the current automotive market and prospects for the next 90 days. It also identifies which factors are most significant in driving dealers’ optimism or pessimism, as well as variations by region. Automotive News is the first publication to carry the survey’s results.

The index measures dealer perceptions of current retail auto sales and sales expectations for the next three months as “strong,” “average” or “weak.” The responses are used to calculate what’s known as a diffusion index, where any number over 50 indicates that dealers view conditions as strong, rather than weak.

The third-quarter index rose one point from the second quarter to 55 in the latest online survey, which was conducted from July 31 to Aug. 7.​

Cox surveyed 1,033 dealers. Cox calculated overall results, as well as separate ones for new-vehicle franchise dealers and independent dealers. This report focuses on the results from the 564 franchise dealers surveyed.

 

Jonathan Smoke, Cox Automotive’s chief economist and the chief architect of the survey, said the results were in line with industry trends Cox has seen.

“To see that franchises were positive and continue to be positive about the future is really reflective of a year that, from a volume perspective, is benefiting them,” Smoke said. “To see them more positive about used sales makes complete sense. While retail demand is down about 2 percent year over year, I think they’re more than making up for that on the used market side.”

Franchise dealers’ views on the used-car sales environment were positive, with an index of 68, down slightly from 70 the previous quarter. Interestingly, independent dealers were less bullish on their used-car sales.

Franchise dealers’ sentiment around new-car sales scored lower than used vehicles, remaining unchanged at 57.

The index score for dealer profits in the past three months ticked upward by two points in the third quarter to 50.

In contrast, franchise dealers indicated barely any concern about dealership systems or tools, interest rates or credit availability to their businesses.

While dealers had a positive view of the market overall, they weren’t enthused about customer traffic to their stores. The score on that factor, 42, indicates that more dealers viewed customer traffic as weak than strong. But this could be a side effect of consumers doing more research online and visiting fewer dealerships, Smoke said.

Face of Toyota design

From the drool-worthy FT-1 Concept to the funky C-HR compact crossover, and even the new “sexy” Camry sedan, the brand is looking much less ho-hum and way more oh-yum.

Part of that new vibe is coming from a star American designer who is pushing the brand’s styling to new limits under Akio Toyoda’s decree for “no more boring cars.”Ian Cartabiano enjoys a good bowl of ramen and cruising backstreet boutiques in Tokyo. But it’s clearly his California flair that’s giving his U.S. studio outsized influence at Japan’s No. 1 carmaker at the moment.

He and his colleagues at the Calty design center in Newport Beach, Calif., are shaking things up.

The in-your-face C-HR and the curvaceous new Camry are two recent hits. So is the FT-4X Concept, a Tonka-truck trail hawk shown in New York last April. Watch for more handiwork soon when Toyota unveils, as early as this fall, an all-new Supra sports car as previewed by the sublime FT-1.

Cartabiano, 43, a laid-back, blue-eyed, bearded stylist who joined Toyota in 1997, had a hefty hand in all of them — as well as in the super svelte Lexus LC sports coupe. But the veteran designer credits the surge in emotional design to two factors: CEO Toyoda and new modularized platforms.

Car-crazy Toyoda unchained designers to break boundaries by demanding hotter-looking rides. And thanks to the Toyota New Global Architecture, a series of revamped vehicle underpinnings that allows Toyota’s cars to be lower, wider, leaner and ​ meaner, designers are free to deliver.

“The era of boring cars, of bland cars and anonymous design is over,” Cartabiano said at the Japanese carmaker’s global headquarters here. “It’s what Akio expects. When the president says something like that, it really allows designers to feel creative freedom.”

Impossible to miss

The clearest sign of changing times: Toyota’s sizzling show cars aren’t getting watered down. The production versions of the Toyota C-HR and Lexus LC are spitting images of their edgy concept cars.

The metamorphosis is getting noticed.

“It’s almost impossible to miss or ignore Toyota’s products anymore,” said John Manoogian, a professor of transportation design at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit and a former General Motors designer. “It’s so difficult to get a large corporation to understand the importance of design as a strategic tool and a product differentiator. Apple understands this. Mr. Toyoda understands it as well and has unleashed Toyota’s designers to be as creative as possible.”

Toyota is also spending more time and money to make it happen.

Switching to the modularized architecture allows engineers to drive down costs by using a common parts bin for a wider array of nameplates. Executives had promised the savings would be channeled back into better vehicles with sexier designs and more cutting-edge technology. And corporate cost-control managers are making good on that pledge.

For the C-HR alone, the design budget was increased 25 percent, Cartabiano said.

“It’s brought down cost in some areas, which allows more cost to be spent on more expressive design,” he said of the modular architecture. “It’s something that wouldn’t happen in the old way of doing things.”

‘Crazy-ass shape’

Cartabiano glides his hand along the undulating curves of the C-HR’s rear quarter-panel, which boasts some of the deepest, most intricate stamping in the Toyota lineup. The wild fender flares slither from around the tailgate and under the taillamp before blending into a heavy door crease.

The deep draw of the stamping required delicate tooling and flawless production processes to make sure the sheen of reflected light seamlessly follows the creases from one panel to the next.

Cartabiano on the C-HR: More money for “more expressive design.”

On the Camry, a key sticking point was the aerodynamics of the C-pillar. The pillar gets a twist in the middle to allow the rear window to curl around the sides of the car. That kink also is a demarcation for a color option with a blacked-out roof that gives the Camry sportier proportions akin to a rear-wheel-drive sedan. Designers at first assumed the flourish was a pipe dream.

“In the beginning, it was like, ‘Oh that would be cool, but they’ll never make anything like this,’ ” Cartabiano recalls. “But then, engineering’s getting excited and we’re figuring out ways to do it.”

Toyota splurged on design extras for the Camry. Aside from the blacked-out roof option, the XLE and XSE grades get different front bumpers, rear bumpers and rocker panels, as well as four wheel choices.

“We can make this kind of sculpture, but still make lots of product and keep our costs down,” Cartabiano said.

“The design budget was increased, and a lot of that was because of TNGA.”

Toyota boosted design spending on everything from the Camry’s boomerang taillamps to the door handles. The door handle took four months to design, said Cartabiano, who penned the initial 2-inch sketch of the new Camry in the margins of his calendar journal.

Automobile Manufacturing Companies

Automotive companies sector has mushroomed over the years into a mature and well established industry. Innovation and manufacturing of vehicles has helped the industry to grow into a profitable one. Automobile companies have contributed significantly to the development of the world’s economy by creating jobs paying lots of taxes and earning loads of foreign exchange. There are several automobile manufacturing companies in the world that produces vehicles in a large quantity.

1) Tata Motors:
Tata Motors is the Asia’s largest and 17th largest automobile manufacturing company in the world. This company is known for its production of cars, trucks, vans, coaches and so on. Tata Motors record the highest sales and is widely popular across the country in 2017.

This company is passionate about anticipating and providing the best commercial and passenger vehicles globally as
Tata Motors can be found on and off-road in over 175 countries around the globe. Cars, buses and trucks of Tata Motors roll out at 20 locations across the world, seven in India and the rest in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, South Africa and Indonesia.

2) Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd:
Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd is a US $19 billion global federation of companies. This company is the world’s largest tractor manufacturing company and also India’s second largest vehicle manufacturing company. Mahindra & Mahindra is India’s top SUV manufacturing company that produce two wheelers, bus, pickup, tempo, trucks, and commercial vehicles.

This company commits to invest in technology and grow global presence. Mahindra & Mahindra aims to multiply output both in quantity and quality with a major focus on manufacturing excellence. This company has created several industry-leading and category-defining brands.

3) Maruti Suzuki:
Maruti Suzuki had brought a big revolution in the automobile industry. This is one of the old companies that expertise in the field of production of cars. This company has manufactured cars such as Alto, Omni, Estilo and so on. The total annual production capacity of this company is about 14, 50,000 units.

Maruti Suzuki works with a mission to provide a car for every individual, family, need, budget and Way of Life. For this, it offers 15 brands and over 150 variants ranging from Alto 800 to the Life Utility Vehicle Maruti Suzuki Ertiga.

4) Hero MotoCorp Ltd:
Hero MotoCorp Ltd is one of the best companies in India. Hero MotoCorp Ltd. (Formerly Hero Honda Motors Ltd.) is the world’s largest manufacturer of two – wheelers, based in India.

This company achieved the coveted position of being the largest two-wheeler manufacturing company in India in 2001 and the ‘World No.1’ two-wheeler company in terms of unit volume sales in a calendar year. Hero MotoCorp two wheelers are manufactured across 4 globally benchmarked manufacturing facilities.

5) Bajaj Auto Limited:
Bajaj Auto Limited is one of the leading business houses and the company’s flagship company, Bajaj Auto, is ranked as the world’s fourth largest three and two wheeler manufacturer.

The Bajaj brand is well-known across several countries in Latin America, Africa, Middle East, South and South East Asia. Their flagship company produces Chetak scooters which were the top seller in the Indian market. The company even made the bikes like pulsar and now they are still working on it.

6) Toyota Motor Corporation:
Toyota Motor Corporation is one of the top most automobile manufacturing companies in the world. This company designs, manufacturers and markets various automobile product ranges from SUVs, minivans, luxury & sport utility vehicles, trucks and buses among others.

Toyota Motor Corporation has other vehicle manufacturing subsidiaries which include Daihatsu Motor for the production of mini-vehicles and Hino Motors for the production of buses and trucks. Toyota car engines are fixed with either combustion or lately the hybrid engines such as the one in the Prius.