Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
1st Gear: The SUV Boom
Never has it felt more like the days of sedans and small cars are numbered in America, even if the current flood of “crossovers” is merely an array of slightly taller hatchbacks. And in the next four years or so, Ford expects crossovers and SUVs to be nearly half the U.S. car market.
They blame changing demographics: Boomers getting older and Millennials havin’ babies, Bloomberg reports.
Boomers who pioneered the SUV a quarter century ago “feel more comfortable on the road” in them because they ride high and are easier to get into and out of than low-riding sedans, Schad said. Millennials who grew up in the back seat of SUVs see them as the family car of the modern age. And now that they are having children, millennials are moving out of small sedans and into SUVs, he said.
Cheap gas and increasingly efficient SUVs are certainly helping with this trend. Never underestimate Americans’ propensity to buy big by default when they can.
2nd Gear: The Updated Escape
Speaking of Ford, the crossover you see up top is the “rebooted” 2017 Ford Escape, which according to Automotive News is getting an assortment of updates for the coming year:
Ford is replacing the 1.6-liter engine on the current Escape with a 1.5-liter motor that’s estimated to produce roughly the same horsepower and torque. Or buyers could step up to a 2.0-liter, twin-scroll engine, introduced earlier this year in the Edge, that Ford says creates less vibration and noise than the outgoing 2.0 liter.
Even with the stop-start feature and new engines, Ford doesn’t expect the Escape’s fuel economy rating to rise in comparison to the outgoing model. It might even fall slightly to better reflect real-world performance.
Ford has focused on improving capability and adding features more than increasing fuel economy in several recent updates to its car and light-truck lineup.
The base model S trim will use a carryover 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine.
Sounds perfect for the aging Boomers and baby-havin’ Millennials!
3rd Gear: VW Takes A Small Sales Hit In Europe
But it’s only a 0.8 percent drop in sales, so it’s hard to tell how much of that slight drop is due to the diesel cheating scandal. Unlike the U.S., many of Volkswagen’s newer diesel cars remain on sale. Here’s Reuters:
Nevertheless sales for the Volkswagen Group, Europe’s biggest carmaker, dropped 0.8 percent last month, while its European market share slipped to 25.2 percent, down from 26.1 percent in the same month last year.
VW’s mass market brands suffered falls in sales last month, with Seat sales down 11.2 percent, Skoda’s down 2.9 percent and the carmaker’s namesake brand down 0.4 percent.
However, premium brands Audi and Porsche still recorded healthy growth, with sales rising 3.5 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.
Because car deliveries typically occur several weeks after purchase decisions, the full repercussions of the scandal, which started with VW’s admission on Sept 18 that diesel-engine emission tests had been rigged, are expected to become more apparent in November registration figures.
Sounds like it could be a normal enough month for VW.
4th Gear: More Denali, More Money
GMC’s trucks are insane profit margin machines, and they plan on milking it even more with some new, more premium editions. Here’s The Detroit News:
General Motors Co. said Tuesday it will add two new models to its popular and highly profitable Denali sub-brand for GMC: an upscale 2017 GMC Canyon Denali pickup in late 2016 and the 2016 GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate pickup in the first quarter of the year.
The trucks were revealed ahead of media days this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
So far this year, Denali vehicles have represented about a quarter of GMC’s sales to retail customers. Since the nameplate — named after Mount Denali, the highest peak in North America — was introduced on the 1999 Yukon, GMC has sold more than 850,000 Denali vehicles. GMC currently offers Denali versions of seven models.
5th Gear: Ford On Trial
Owners of some Ford hybrids are suing the automaker over what they believe are inflated fuel economy claims, and a federal judge recently declined to toss the case, so it will go to trial. From Bloomberg:
Ford Motor Co. will have to face trial over claims that it exaggerated fuel-efficiency estimates for its Fusion and C-Max hybrids after a federal judge in New York on Nov. 12 denied the company’s request to throw the case out.
Ford buyers sued in 2013 questioning claims that the vehicles could get 47 miles per gallon. “Ford implicitly recognized that its advertising campaign was misleading,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth M. Karas said in a ruling dismissing the carmaker’s request to toss the suit.
Reverse: That Went GREAT