Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Audi Reveals Next Generation A3 Interior and the A3 Itself

While Detroit is the center of the automotive universe in early January, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is becoming more and more important to the auto industry as cars become rolling multimedia platforms. Therefore it makes sense that Audi would show off the latest iteration of its MMI infotainment system in Las Vegas. However, Audi went far beyond just showing screencaps from the new MMI system and decided to show the entire dashboard from the next generation A3. Like other new Audis the A3 will feature a pop-up navigation display and a touchpad for writing commands, a neat touch is that the touchpad is now on top of the MMI rotary knob. Apparently showing the interior of the A3 was not enough as one of the photos of the navigation screen shows a rendered image of the A3 3 door in its entirety. Keep in mind though this time around the US will only get the sedan version. Nevertheless here is a preview of how the next A3 will look like in other parts of the world.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011 Sales Recap

Total car and light truck sales as a whole went up  about 10% in 2011 compared to 2010, an increase of over a million extra sales compared to last year bringing the grand total to just shy of 12.8 million. While the industry posted higher sales on average, 2011 will certainly be remembered for the lost market share of traditional powerhouses Toyota and Honda along with their respective luxury divisions. Natural disasters in Japan and Thailand reduced inventory for both Honda and Toyota and thus hurting sales, but ever stronger competition played a role as well. In the end Lexus was the biggest loser as it sales shrunk by 13.4% while Honda and Acura saw loses of around 6%. Both manufacturers should easily top 2011 sales in 2012 but new products for both manufacturers will be vital to improve upon 2010 sales level. At the other end of the spectrum Jeep posted incredible sales improvements over the entire year on its way to a 44% improvement. Kia and Hyundai continued to gain market share with improvements of 36 and 20 per cent while Volkswagen posted a 26.3 per cent improvement thanks to its "Americanized" Jetta and Passat models.

2011 also marked the first full year of mainstream electric transportation available for sale as the all electric Nissan LEAF found 9,674 customers while the range extending Chevrolet Volt enticed 7,671 buyers. While the Volt sold less for the year it has been outselling the LEAF the last few months winning December 1,529 versus 954 for the LEAF. We'll see how far electric vehicles will increase their market share in 2012 with new arrivals such as the Ford Focus.

Taking advantage of retreating Lexus sales throughout the year Mercedes and BMW are both withholding their official sales figures in a bit of election style "too close to call" race for the number one luxury spot. Don't expect things to be Iowa close but stay tuned for updated results tomorrow once Mercedes and BMW both officially announce their figures.