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: How Buick Will Get Its Groove Back
General Motors’ luxury-ish brand had a good year, but maybe not a great one. Bolstered by the success of the small Encore crossover, sales are past the 200,000 mark but still down 3 percent overall since last year.
The Detroit Free Press reports Buick wants that to change in 2016 with several new products like the Cascada convertible, redesigned LaCrosse, Chinese-built (but fancied up for America) Envision crossover, and maybe a surprise at the Detroit Auto Show:
As for the surprise that Buick will unveil at its Jan. 10 event at Eastern Market in Detroit, don’t be shocked to see a production version of the Avenir full-size sedan concept shown at the event last January. Or will Buick place more chips on the SUV/crossover boom with a vision of the next Enclave, already near the end of its product cycle?
If Buick’s smart it will be another new crossover.
2nd Gear: Mazda Wants To Boost Crossover Sales
Mazda sees the writing on the wall, and wants to shift its heavy reliance off the Mazda3 sedan and hatch to its growing crossover lineup. Here’s Automotive News:
At that time, he said that increased crossover sales can help Mazda transition away from heavy reliance on the Mazda3 compact. Crossover buyers tend to be more free-spending than compact car buyers, he said.
“In light of this, I wish that more than 50 percent of our total [U.S.] sales in two or three years be crossovers,” said Moro, managing executive officer of global sales coordination.
Through November, Mazda sold 121,622 of its three crossovers, the CX-3, CX-5 and CX-9, in the U.S. That represents 42 percent of total U.S. sales of 289,889 through the first 11 months of this year.
Then there’s this thing. Crossovers for everybody!
3rd Gear: Hyundai Finally Gets Apple CarPlay
Apple CarPlay was supposed to be the next big thing in infotainment systems, but adoption among individual models has been much slower than anticipated. (Of all the cars your humble Jalopnik editor drove in 2015, only one had Apple CarPlay.)
Hyundai was supposed to have had Apple CarPlay by the 2015 model year, but it’s been repeatedly delayed, much to the chagrin of owners.
That should get fixed soon, says The Detroit Free Press. Hyundai Sonata owners will finally get to upgrade to the system in Q1 2016:
Hyundai says owners will have to buy an SD card with new software to get the system. That contradicts the company’s earlier assurance that the system would be a free download for customers who bought a properly equipped 2015 or ’16 Sonata midsize sedan. Hyundai already offers Android Auto in the cars for Google phone users at no additional charge.
4th Gear: War For Pep Boys Continues
Looks like Carl Icahn and Bridgestone are in a big fight to buy the struggling parts chain. Via Bloomberg:
Pep Boys shares jumped as much as 6.7 percent in early trading after Carl Icahn raised his takeover offer for the auto-parts chain to more than $1 billion, escalating a bidding war with Bridgestone Corp.
The stock jumped to $18.58, above the $18.50-a-share in cash offered by Icahn’s investment firm on Monday, putting pressure on Bridgestone to match or top the billionaire’s bid. Icahn Enterprises said it would be willing to boost the proposal even further if Pep Boys doesn’t increase the termination fee in its deal with Bridgestone.
5th Gear: Audi Q2
Speaking of the industry’s current “MOAR CROSSOVERS” ethos, Audi may be cutting spending for 2016, but it’s still growing its SUV lineup to include a new Q2 small crossover. Via Automotive News Europe:
The company will bring out the Q2 compact SUV and revise the Q5 as part of a spending program exceeding 3 billion euros ($3.29 billion) for 2016, Audi said today in a statement. Audi is committing to a battery-powered model by 2018 and expects to have a lineup of 60 cars and SUVs by 2020, it said.
“We are continuing with our high levels of investment in future technologies to enhance the strong position of our brand,” CEO Rupert Stadler said in the statement.
America will definitely get the Q5. The Q2 remains to be seen.
Reverse: Whatever Happened To That Guy?
Neutral: How Does Buick Bounce Back?
And don’t say “more rear-wheel drive sedans” because Cadillac is doing that and look at their sales numbers. The market is moving away from sedans and mainstream buyers don’t care about which wheels the power goes to, unless they live in snow states and spring for AWD. How does Buick stand apart?
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