Hyundai Motor America today reported its best April ever, selling 68,009 units, a three percent increase compared with sales in April 2014 and up, year-to-date, six percent.

“For six years in a row we’ve set April sales records going into the spring selling season. With the launch of our all-new Sonata Hybrid and first Sonata Plug-In Hybrid this month, we are well poised to keep this momentum going,” said Bob Pradzinski, vice president, National Sales, Hyundai Motor America.

Genesis sedan, led by the popularity of Hyundai’s HTRAC all-wheel drive system, once again was at the forefront with a 142 percent increase over last year, followed by the Sonata Hybrid, up 21 percent, Elantra sedan, up 16 percent and the Santa Fe, up 10 percent – all setting their best-ever April sales record.

The Azera saw sales gains of 30 percent and the sub-compact Accent was up 28 percent.

Hyundai Sonata to get an even more daring redesign


On paper, the latest Hyundai Sonata has been a winner. The sedan sold 216,936 units in 2014, around 13,000 more than the previous year, and the new model posted healthy year-over-year gains in both December and November. However, according to a report from Wards Auto, the Korean brand isn’t happy with how the vehicle is doing and is planning a redesign, to be timed with the future refresh.

Unveiled at the 2014 New York Auto Show, the latest Sonata has a more refined, almost luxurious air about it, and the sedan ditches the swooping styling from the previous generation. It also comes at a slightly lower base price. But the more mature design is also the problem. Hyundai Motor America CEO Dave Zuchowski told Wards during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show that the new model was “not as distinctive” as its predecessor. Previously, “people would seek us out because we look different. And we don’t get that now,” he said. While no details on the redesign were divulged, Zuchowski said the company was already at work on the shape. He suggested the changes would debut for the Sonata’s refresh, likely in the 2017 or 2018 model years.

Autoblog reached out to Hyundai about the possible design change and spokesperson Derek Joyce told us, “Dave was simply referring to our normal mid-cycle refresh where it’s typical to make styling tweaks.”

According to Wards, the latest Sonata isn’t conquesting as many buyers from other brands as Hyundai would like. The company reportedly raised incentives to get them to move. So while sales were up, the automaker was disappointed.

AutoTrader senior analyst Michelle Krebs confirmed to Autoblog that incentives were high for the Sonata, but that had nothing to do with its design. “The midsize car segment has fallen out of favor with buyers who want utilities so they are carrying very heavy incentives. We expect that trend to continue and then some in 2015,” she said.

A previous report also claimed that the 2015 Sonata wasn’t living up to sales expectations in part due to its more traditional styling. But the company shot down those claims because the sedan was still rolling out the entire range to dealers at the time. Even now, Hyundai is still adding the Sonata Hybrid and Plug-In to the lineup in the coming year.

Hyundai sells its 10,000,000th Elantra

MY14 Hyundai Elantra Sport

There aren’t many nameplates that have sold over 10 million units in the history of the automotive industry. In fact there have only been ten, and now Hyundai has joined the list for the first time with the Elantra.

Launched 24 years ago, the Elantra has far and away been Hyundai’s top selling model. Now in its fifth generation, the Elantra is sold as a coupe, sedan and wagon, and under the Avante name in its home market. It’s one of the top selling cars in the world, and Hyundai has earned the right to crow that it has sold its 10,000,000 of them globally. That means that, on average, Hyundai has sold more than 45 new Elantras every hour of every day of every year since its introduction in 1990.

Other models in the 10 Million Club include the Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, VW Beetle and Golf, and theFord Model T and F-Series. The latter might still be considered the most impressive, selling over 34 million units – the vast majority in the US – to be America’s top-selling vehicle for over 30 years running.

[Source: Autoblog]

Portland 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel dealer taking orders


Dick’s Country Dodge in Hillsboro helped started taking orders for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel in Oregon and all across the country it was a huge day. For further information contact us at (800) 783-4891.

On the heels of EPA’s certification of 28 MPG, Ram Truck opened the initial order allocation for the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel to receive a flood of orders from dealers across the nation. More than 8,000 trucks equipped with the fuel-sipping engine that packs 420 lb.-ft. of torque have been placed-just over 50 percent of the total mix. Even more surprising is the amount of orders already paid for by customers- twice the corporate average of sold customer orders on a truck that customers have yet to test drive.

“The Ram 1500 is the only half-ton truck available with a diesel, so we see this as incremental business by having the only truck that can offer best-in-class fuel economy of 28 MPG combined with 9,200 lbs. of towing capacity,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Ram Truck Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “It’s every truck manufacturer’s dream to have this kind of initial order demand for a product. Fuel economy is the No. 1 request of half-ton buyers and the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel delivers without compromising capability.”

The EcoDiesel-powered 2014 Ram 1500 has earned a 28-mpg rating from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the best highway-cycle test result ever achieved by a full-size, half-ton pickup. It also exceeds the EPA highway rating for the top-ranked small pickup. The breakthrough results mean Ram keeps the half-ton fuel-economy record set last year by the 2013 Ram 1500. Equipped with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 gasoline engine, the truck earned 25 mpg highway, a rating that stands for model-year 2014. The Ram 1500 now owns the half-ton pickup segment’s top two spots in the EPA’s 2014 highway fuel-economy rankings.

Production of the 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel began in February with a group of specialized trucks in popular configurations. Normal processes place the initial build under quality review to assure every truck meets or exceeds targets. Shipping is expected in March, keeping the planned delivery within the first quarter of 2014.

Although Ram has reached its first planned order allocation numbers in three days, customers who special order the new truck will have priority in the build. Orders for dealer stocking will be filled once sold customer orders are filled. The next order allocation of Ram 1500 EcoDiesel trucks will open in early March.

Analysts estimate October sales will jump between 8-12 percent


The 16-day government shutdown that dominated newscasts and headlines for the first half of October doesn’t look to have had a dramatic impact on monthly sales, according to separately filed reports by Kelley Blue Book and JD Power. The news is even more welcomed following September’s sales, which saw the first year-over-year decline in 27 months.

KBB is forecasting a double-digit jump of 12 percent in new-car sales, with 1.22 million units moved, including fleet sales. It’s also forecasting a significant, year-over-year jump in the seasonally adjusted annualized rate – a measure of sales that takes into account seasonal fluctuations – to 15.4 million for 2013, compared to 14.3 million during October 2012. The biggest earners are expected to be Toyota and Ford, although Chrysler, Honda and Nissan are also expected to make some big gains this month. “The government shutdown didn’t impact consumers’ growing appetite for buying new vehicles,” said KBB senior analyst Alec Gutierrez.

JD Power, meanwhile, is being a bit more conservative with its forecasting, claiming that October sales will hit 1.01 million, an eight-percent increase over the same period in 2012. It’s also estimating a hefty increase in the seasonally adjusted annualized rate, although the overall numbers are quite a bit lower than KBB’s estimates, with a year-over-year jump from 11.5 million to 12.8 million units. Going along with the less rosy report was this statement from JD Power’s senior vice president of global automotive practice, John Humphrey, who said, “Sales in the third week of the month strengthened relative to the first two weeks, which is evidence of vehicle buyers delaying their purchase until the shutdown was resolved.”

While it’s unclear just how right the two firms are, the fact that both are projecting significant gains, despite a government shutdown, are good for the industry. We’ll have a full report on October 2013 sales in November, when numbers are officially published.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford C-Max Hybrid is Blue Oval’s best-selling hybrid in first month of sales

The bad news for Ford is that its C-Max Hybrid wagon was solidly beaten by sales of the Toyota Prius V last September. The good news is the C-Max outsold all of Ford’s other hybrids in its very first month, hinting that things could get real interesting between the C-Max and V in the future. Ford has been heavily touting the C-Max Hybrid as an alternative to the Prius V, and we’re about to get real data on if that approach is working.

Ford moved 969 C-Max Hybrids in September, edging out the Fusion Hybrid, with 898 sold, and the Lincoln MKZ, with 781. Granted, the C-Max fell well short of the Prius V’s September sales of 1,652 vehicles. Still, the C-Max eclipsed the Ford Fusion Hybrid’s debut-month sales of 402 units in March 2009 (the Fusion moved 1,073 units the following month). And in its debut month of September 2010, the Lincoln MKZ hybrid moved just ten units, followed by sales of 366 units in October 2010. Looks like Ford is getting better at making hybrids people want to buy.

In June, Ford said that the C-Max would beat the Prius V’s combined fuel economy of 42 miles per gallon combined, and in August made good on that promise by getting a 47-mpg rating across the board. The C-Max, with its $25,995 base price, also undercuts the Prius V by $500. The automaker started taking orders for the C-Max Hybrid in May and has been directly targeting the V in press releases and commercials. In fact, today Ford released three new commercials for the C-Max, some of them directly attacking the V.

Portland Ford C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi dealer presents C-MAX marketing

Portland Ford dealer, Dick’s Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro, KNOWS that the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi, for sale in Portland, are the most fuel-efficient hybrid out there, but we’re pretty much excited about the creative way that you’re going to figure it out, too! For more information, please contact us at (800) 783-0863.

Ford is drawing on the popularity of a classic animated television character to establish C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid as better, more fuel-efficient hybrid alternatives to Toyota Prius v through a new advertising campaign that breaks tonight.

Reviving a classic 1970s character from a popular Italian animated children’s series called “La Linea” – also a hit in the U.S. in the 1980s – the new ads use the series’ familiar style to showcase C-MAX Hybrid’s “real-vehicle” performance, technology and value to new buyers.

“The ‘La Linea’ C-MAX Hybrid ads are simple, unique spots that will introduce our first all-hybrid line in North America to Americans by hand-drawing the vehicle’s silhouette and showing how it beats Prius v, especially in fuel economy,” says Matt VanDyke, director, U.S. Marketing Communications, Ford Motor Company. “We also are targeting customers who have been sitting on the hybrid fence by showing how the new C-MAX Hybrid offers the value, performance and technology they previously thought had to be sacrificed for efficiency.”

The national campaign for C-MAX launches across the U.S. recently and features TV (also click here) and digital components. Integrated efforts featuring social media, print ads and events are to follow in targeted regions.

The C-MAX is Ford’s first line dedicated completely to hybrids, and the C-MAX Hybrid will be featured first with C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid model joining the campaign later this year.

The animated “La Linea” series was a pop culture phenomenon between 1970 and 1986, seen in various ways in more than 50 countries around the world; in the U.S. it appeared on “Great Space Coaster,” a popular children’s TV show.

“La Linea” – Italian for “the line” – follows the adventures of a nameless and speechless character traversing a never-ending line and often frustrated by obstacles encountered. Trapped in a two-dimensional world, the character has little option but to appeal to an unseen, off-screen animator armed with a grease pencil. The animator obliges by drawing a solution, though often with a twist.

In the Ford campaign, the series stays true to its roots with the character constantly being frustrated by the limitations of the Toyota Prius v, such as the lower amount of horsepower featured in one of the spots.

As a solution, the animator draws a C-MAX Hybrid for the character. Once behind the wheel of a Ford C-MAX Hybrid – with its 188 total system horsepower instead of the 134 offered by Prius – the animated character happily finds his place traveling at a normal speed down the highway. In the end, the “real-vehicle” aspect of C-MAX Hybrid is once again showcased as it breaks out of the fantasy world of animation and real footage of the vehicle is shown.

“That’s why this campaign works so well – because C-MAX is capable of saving people from the limitations and frustrations of current hybrids,” said VanDyke. “But the ads are done with just the right tonality of competitiveness versus a strong competitor. It clearly positions our product in a fun way.”

Plenty of opportunities exist for Ford to position itself in a positive way against Prius.

For example, as the first Ford hybrid to achieve equal city and highway fuel economy figures, C-MAX Hybrid delivers EPA-certified 47 mpg city, 47 mpg highway ratings – 7 mpg better than Prius v on the highway – for a 47 mpg combined rating.

Delivering fuel efficiency is important, according to a recent poll commissioned by Ford. In fact, 25 percent of survey respondents said that if they had $1,000 of discretionary income to spend on energy savings, they would put it toward a vehicle with hybrid technology.

C-MAX Hybrid goes further by offering 15 class-exclusive features, such as SmartGauge® with EcoGuide and the available hands-free liftgate – featured in one of the TV spots when the character has its hands full and is unable to reach for keys.

Classic animation for a new lineup

“La Linea” was created by Italian artist Osvaldo Cavandoli in 1969. It quickly grew in popularity and became a worldwide hit that was shown in more than 50 countries. Between 1971 and 1986, there were 90 “La Linea” episodes created with each episode less than three minutes long.

Cavandoli died in 2007 but the company that has controlled licensing of the show for 30 years, Quipos, retains and maintains control of “La Linea.”

Quipos worked with Dearborn, Mich.-based Team Detroit, the Ford advertising agency behind the campaign, to ensure the C-MAX spots had the vintage look and authenticity of Cavandoli’s original product, said Brad Hensen, creative director at Team Detroit.

In fact, the licensing agreement mandates the animation must be done by hand, or as Hensen says, through “old-school cell animation.” That’s opposite to the way most animation is done today – with computers – though that isn’t to say computers aren’t used in the animation process.

Shilo, the New York-based Emmy Award-winning company handling production of the TV spots for the C-MAX campaign, made computer versions of the ads first. The computer versions were then sent to the animators so they could create everything by hand.

Shilo has produced a wide range of commercials, from the MetLife Insurance spots featuring Snoopy and the Peanuts to ads for EA, Under Armour, AT&T and Lincoln.

“The fact that each cell has to be hand-drawn lends a certain warmth to the animation,” said Hensen. “All of this other computer animation we are being inundated with – including ads by other automakers – is just too fluid, too slick, too perfect. Life isn’t that way. Being more real is another way this campaign truly reflects the vehicle.”

In fact, the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid both deliver the “real-car” feel of traditional gas-powered vehicles. In addition to the higher horsepower delivered, standard technologies such as Torque Vectoring Control, Curve Control and electric power-assisted steering (EPAS) offer impressive driving dynamics and maneuverability with road-holding capability and sportiness.

Further, Ford’s hybrid powersplit architecture allows the electric motor and gas engine to work together – or separately – to maximize efficiency. In C-MAX Hybrid, the feature enables electric-mode driving of up to 62 mph, a 30 percent increase over previous-generation hybrids.

The technology of the C-MAX Hybrid and C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid also lends to that “real-car” feel by not forcing owners to go without for the sake of not draining power sources. That’s important to note because Ford has a portfolio of roughly 500 patents classified as hybrid technology that has steadily been growing and shows in today’s hybrid vehicles.

The SmartGauge with EcoGuide feature, for example, has a dual-screen LCD design that allows the customer to tailor their vehicle information to their needs with four levels of customizable information.

The all-new 2013 C-MAX Hybrid is expected to be America’s most affordable hybrid utility vehicle with a base price of $25,995, including destination and delivery, which is $1,300 lower than Prius v. C-MAX Hybrid is for sale at Ford dealerships nationwide.

C-MAX Energi – at $29,995 after a federal tax credit (including destination and delivery) – is available for order at Oregon Ford dealer, Mackenzie Ford.