The Ram truck and van brand bested all other automotive brands as the highest quality vehicle lineup for the 2021 model year, according to an influential study.
The closely followed J.D. Power Initial Quality Study named Ram and its sibling brand, Dodge, as the first and second highest quality brands in the industry, respectively.
They topped top-of-the-list stalwart Lexus, the luxury brand made by Toyota. Lexus tied for third with Mitsubishi.
“This is not a data-point; this is a trend,” said Mark Champine, head of North America customer experience at Stellantis, which makes the Ram, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler and Fiat brands, in a statement. “Anyone who knows the robustness of our product-improvement processes, as well as the engagement level of our workforce, is not surprised by these latest results.”
The 35th annual J.D. Power study assessed the first three months of 2021 model-year vehicle ownership among nearly 111,000 owners, who answered 223 questions about features like infotainment, powertrain, comfort and safety.
In the 2021 IQS study, the Nissan Maxima, a large car, ranked as the highest quality vehicle.
Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Group, which includes the Hyundai and Kia brands, had seven vehicles named as the highest quality models in their individual categories, the most of any company. (See the full list below.)
Toyota had five, BMW four, Nissan three, General Motors two and Stellantis two.
The industry average was 162 problems per 100 vehicles, which was fourmore than in 2020. Twenty of the 32 measured brands improved their quality compared with 2020.
But infotainment shortcomings continue to undermine vehicle quality, according to J.D. Power.
It was “the most problematic category,” representing 1 in 4 of all problems and 6 of the 10 most common issues, according to J.D. Power.
One of the most common problems: people are frustrated when their phones don’t seamlessly connect with their vehicles.
“Owners are caught in the middle when vehicle and phone technologies don’t properly connect,” Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “This year there are many examples of smartphone technology not working as intended in new vehicles. With more vehicles being fitted with the wireless technology owners want, the study reveals an increase in connectivity problems between smartphones and vehicles, leaving many owners unhappy.”
The five lowest officially ranked brands were Alfa Romeo, Volvo, Volkswagen, Audi and Chrysler.
Tesla was not included in the official rankings since it does not provide permission for its owners to be surveyed in the 15 states where such permission is required. But based on the automaker’s scores in the other 35 states, it ranks as the third-lowest quality brand, according to J.D. Power.
Only one week after Pebble Beach, more than a dozen entries from that storied show made their way down the coast to the San Marino Motor Classic on the big lawn of Lacy Park in tony San Marino, California, a Los Angeles suburb that was old money when Beverly Hills was still farmland. In addition to the Pebble cars, this was one of the most diverse collections of classic cars at any car show anywhere, 480 of them total, spread out like a giant automotive floral arrangement on Lacy Park’s three-plus acres.
The Ferrari Club of America SW Region held their annual Concorso smack dab in the middle of the lawn, with collector David Lee once again anchoring the east end of the field with five of his favorite cars from his formidable collection. The giant American classics held down the lawn’s west end as part of a judged show put on by the AACA, Antique Automobile Club of America. Around all that was everything from Porsches to Pontiacs in one of the most diverse shows in the country.
“It’s super-sized,” said the Motor Classic’s chairman Aaron Weiss. “It is amazing. 480 cars signed up, the gala last night had a record 550 people, the VIP tent today is 600, everything is, like, blown up and everybody seems to be having a good time. We’ve got great cars, as usual. It’s pretty amazing. Every year it blows my mind. It gets better and better.”
For comparison, the first year of the Motor Classic there were about 250 cars.
“It’s going a lot smoother,” said Weiss. “We figured it out. It took us nine years, but we figured it out. Everything’s really good.” Before this year’s show even started, the Classic had raised more than $2.3 million for the charities it supports: the Pasadena Humane Society, Cancer Support Community Pasadena, and the San Marino Rotary Charities. The show looks to add another $350,000 to that, maybe more.
“The more people come in, the more we’re making,” Weiss said.
Previous shows had been held in June.
“We went with this week intentionally,” Weiss said. “We wanted to be the week after Pebble Beach because there’s a fair number of our entries that show at Pebble and the cost of transportation from Pebble here is much less than the cost of having to go back to the East Coast and then back here. So this really worked out well.”
Weiss estimated that there were 12 to 18 cars from Pebble on the lawn this year, including Mark Hyman’s 1937 Delahaye Torpedo Cabriolet, which has quite a story: It was hidden from the Nazis during WWII, then from the Russians during the Cold War. Restorer Jacques Harguindeguy bought it in pieces in 1998, restored it, and it won Best of Show at Pebble in 2000.
Past shows held in June always coincided with the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ironically, this year’s show did, too. The idea of following on with the previous week’s
The Woodward Dream Cruise is a day-long event where (nearly) anything flies. It’s a special day for any vehicle — and we do mean vehicle — enthusiast in the southeast Michigan area, but plenty of folks from outside the state travel in to attend the party, too.
Total attendance for the day typically exceeds 1 million people, and the number of cars cruising Woodward is normally higher than 40,000. The name describes what it is best. “Woodward” is the name of the road on which the “Cruise” takes place. However, it’s much less of a cruise and more of a traffic jam with how many cars ultimately show up. Traffic rarely exceeds the 45 mph speed limit, and most of the time everybody is simply idling along at a crawl. That’s exactly what the people want, though, since the way you “attend” this cruise is simply by pitching a chair on the side of the road. It’s the best moving car show you’ll ever go to. Just expect your eardrums to take a beating from time to time, and know that your lungs will get their yearly dose of pre-emissions exhaust fumes.
You have your choice of where to attend, as well, since cruisers go as far north as Pontiac, Mich., and as far south as Ferndale, Mich., a 14-mile stretch. If it’s your first time, though, we definitely recommend posting up between Royal Oak and Birmingham, as that’s where the meat of the cars and people gather.
And what an entertaining gathering it is. We truly mean it when we say anything goes. The definition of “street legal” is broadened for this one day, as folks bust out the most bizarre and head-scratching builds you’ll ever see. Sure, the main event is derived from and caters to classic American muscle — you can check out the meat and potatoes of the cruise in our main post here — but it’s the strange automobile concoctions that give the cruise an extra spice. And the dogs. Don’t forget about the dogs. This year’s cruise saw temperatures rising above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, so the herd of dogs was thinner than usual, but there were still enough fluffers hanging out in classic cars to make everybody’s day.
Take a scroll through the galleries, and enjoy. And make the trip to Woodward next year if you can. We can guarantee the show won’t disappoint.
That Toyota RAV4 you’ve been thinking about buying?
You might have to wait a while.
Toyota on Thursday announced temporary vehicle production cuts at operations in Japan and North America due to the global shortage of semiconductor chips.
The move is expected to further cramp the availability of new Toyota cars and trucks, which have already been in short supply in some cases.
What vehicles will be limited?
“A little bit of everything,” Toyota spokesman Scott Vazin said in an email.
The slowdown in production affects all of the company’s North American plants, including factories in Indiana and Kentucky, and is expected to last through September and “likely” into October, Vazin said.
Toyota said it expects to reduce its output by about 60,000 to 90,000 vehicles in August and 80,000 in September.
Toyota has 14 plants in North America, including 10 in the U.S., with a total of more than 176,000 employees. The automaker’s U.S. plants made about 1 million of the 2.1 million vehicles the company sold in America in 2020.
The Toyota brand had only 20 days supply of new vehicles on hand at the end of July, while the company’s luxury Lexus brand had 23 days supply, according to Cox Automotive, which owns Kelley Blue Book and Autograder. The national average was 32 days.
“Toyota has been at or near the bottom for inventory for many months,” Autotrader analyst Michelle Krebs said in an email. “Lexus has been lowest among luxury makes.”
Part of the reason is that Toyota vehicles have been particularly popular during the pandemic, she said.
Toyota had already taken steps to reduce production in certain situations, including the output of the Tundra full-size pickup at its plant in San Antonio, Texas, said Chris Reynolds, Toyota North America executive.
“Long term we’re going to continue to work with our suppliers to get a better grasp of the global supply chain and minimize its impact,” said Reynolds, chief administrative officer of corporate resources.
Lots of carmakers want to improve road safety by getting cars to talk to each other with a technology called C-V2X. But a startup called Spoke plans to bring the technology to bicyclists next year and, after that, to scooter riders and motorcyclists. A trio of gadgets from the startup is designed to help drivers spot cyclists and vice versa.
Spoke’s first product, a phone-size device called ConnectMe that attaches to a bike frame or tucks into a pocket will broadcast a cyclist’s detailed position information to nearby cars. It uses the C-V2X (cellular vehicle to everything) — a wireless communication technology that’s gained a small foothold in the auto industry. It’ll dovetail with two other Spoke products, the ControlIt bike computer and the SeeYou rear view camera.
Here’s one example of what the technology promises. A car driver preparing to make a right turn might not notice a cyclist riding in the driver’s blind spot who’d be cut off by that turn. The C-V2X system would register the driver’s steering wheel movement and alert both the driver and the cyclist of the potential problem. It’s a common problem when bikes and cars mix.
“It will dramatically improve your situational awareness,” said Spoke Chief Executive Jarrett Wendt, himself a cyclist. Spoke’s trio of products should add about $300 to $400 to the cost of a bicycle, with the ConnectMe arriving by September 2022 and the others by the end of the year.
C-V2X could dramatically reshape the driving experience, warning you about critical issues like the driver ahead slamming on the brakes. C-V2X could enable automated safety features and smooth the path toward fully autonomous vehicles, too.
The big problem with C-V2X is that it’s not useful until lots of cars have it, and there’s not much of an incentive for carmakers to offer it when it doesn’t do much yet. A C-V2X predecessor, called DSRC, made almost no headway despite two decades of work on the technology.
C-V2X champions believe its use of mainstream mobile phone and network technology — 4G and 5G — will make it more affordable and appealing than DSRC. And some government agencies, including the US Federal Communications Commission, are on board.
One of the biggest C-V2X backers is smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm, which is supplying Spoke with electronics components.
“I do believe there will be an avalanche soon” for C-V2X adoption, thanks to carmakers and
The Super Bowl of super-rich car collecting kicks off in Monterey, California, this week as more than $300 million worth of rolling trophies comes up for auction.
After an unexpected surge in classic car sales and prices during the coronavirus pandemic, Monterey Car Week and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance marks the biggest test of demand for the most expensive classic cars. Lingering health concerns over Covid and a lack of international buyers will also cast a shadow over an event that typically gathers tens of thousands of wealthy car fans to attend parties, launch events, races and auctions.
So far, however, sales and auctions are shaping up to be some of the strongest on record.
“There is huge pent-up demand,” said McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, the classic car insurance and collector services company. “This week could be extraordinary.”
More than 1,000 vehicles are expected to come up for auction this week, according to Hagerty. Total sales are expected to reach $325 million — up 28% over 2019, the most recent year for sales after the event was canceled last year due to Covid. Monterey is known for having the most prized and expensive cars, and this year at least 115 vehicles are expected to fetch $1 million or more.
All the major car auction companies — from Gooding & Co., to RM Sotheby’s, Mecum and Bonhams — save some of their best collections and most prized cars for the ultra-wealthy Monterey crowd. Mecum this year has “The Big Al Collection,” a fleet of more than 80 cars that includes everything from Corvettes and Camaros to a seven-figure LaFerrari and rare Porsches.
Mecum CEO Dave Magers said the company is seeing the strongest demand in its history, with much of it coming from new collectors who started learning about classic cars online during the pandemic and are now bidding online. Mecum’s sell-through rate, or the percentage of cars coming up for auction that actually sell, is running about about 85% this year — much higher than historical averages.
“When the sell-through rate goes up, prices go up,” he said. “Everything is lifted.”
Gooding will be selling the collection of the late rock star Neil Peart, the famed drummer and lyricist for the band Rush. The collection includes a 1964 Aston Martin DB5 (of James Bond fame) expected to fetch up to $725,000, a 1964 Shelby Cobra 289, expected to top $1 million, and a 1970 Lamborghini Miura that could sell for $1.5 million.
“The buyers right now don’t hesitate,” said Gooding CEO David Gooding. “If they want something, they go for it. It’s an attitude of ‘things are uncertain, I’m not going to wait.'”
Here are the top five cars by estimated sale price coming up for auction this week, according to Hagerty.
The Gear Patrol Podcast is our weekly roundtable discussion focused on products, their stories, and the culture surrounding them.
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In this episode, Staff Writer Tyler Duffy joins to talk about a series of posts he recently authored that identifies the 50 most influential cars of the past 50 years. Tyler explains what “influential” means in this context, how he selected the 50 cars and the top car of each decade, and why his list isn’t of the 50 best cars. For car enthusiasts, a list like this is a hot-button topic. Regardless of your relationship to cars, Tyler’s methodology is fascinating and makes a compelling argument.
01:00 – Influential versus “Best”
08:15 – If You Change An Iconic Car, Is It Still The Same Car?
13:30 – The One Quality That Makes A Car “Influential”
16:30 – How Tyler Chose These 50 Cars
19:20 – Cars That Didn’t Make The Cut
22:05 – The Most Influential Car On The List
Featured and Related:
The 50 Most Influential Cars
These Are the 16 Best Cars to Buy in 2021
The Best New Cars, Trucks and SUVs We’ve Driven So Far in 2021
The Best Used Cars You Can Buy Right Now
These Are the 10 Best Cars to Buy Under $55,000
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The people here are not Hollywood stars or billionaire tech entrepreneurs who might own Ferraris and private jets. But they are well off. The median household income in the area exceeds $165,000, and half the homes are valued at more than $1 million. Eight in 10 residents have at least an undergraduate degree. As early buyers with high incomes, they can easily take advantage of the federal E.V. tax credit.
The incentives are, in effect, “subsidizing my luxury,” said Mr. Teglia, who also has solar panels on his home. The Model 3s he owns sell for about $40,000 before government incentives.
Dr. Jack Hsiao, an obstetrician-gynecologist, had avoided buying an electric vehicle for fear that he wouldn’t be able to drive very far before having to plug in — a phenomenon known as range anxiety. But his sister, who moved to California from Texas and bought solar panels and a Tesla, persuaded their father, who lives with Dr. Hsiao, 54, to buy one, too. Following his family, Dr. Hsiao bought a Tesla and solar panels.
“Gas prices have just gone through the roof, and so, given that I’ve got the solar panels, it cost me next to nothing to charge,” he said. “For me, it was just a perfect fit.”
Elaine Borseth, a retired chiropractor, is another convert. Before she bought a Model S, she had never spent more than $20,000 on a car. But after seeing several of the big, sporty sedans on the road, she drove one about seven years ago. “I thought they were sleek and sexy,” said Ms. Borseth, who now runs the Electric Vehicle Association of San Diego.
“It’s almost one of those cases where the more you see, it just kind of breeds upon itself,” she said to explain why her neighborhood has so many electric cars.
Countless companies have been trying to bring Chinese models to the United States with little success. That trend continues as HAAH Automotive Holdings is going bust.
This is a surprising development as the company signed a letter of intent in April, which was set to pave the way for Vantas and T-GO branded vehicles to come to the United States. As part of that announcement, the company said the Vantas VX and TXL would be assembled in China and arrive in America by the end of 2022.
However, that’s not happening as HAAH Automotive Holdings is slated to file for bankruptcy today. CEO Duke Hale spoke to Automotive News and said “We don’t see a way forward right now for Vantas and T-GO.”
Also Read: Vantas Launch Pushed Back To Late 2022, First Models To Be Built In China
Hale went on to explain worsening relations between the United States and China effectively scuttled their plans as imports would have faced steep tariffs and a negative sentiment towards Chinese products as “Americans aren’t very fond of where they believe COVID came from.” Given these and other challenges, investors bailed right as the company needed a “big infusion of cash” to finalize a joint venture with Chery-owned Shanghai Sicar Automotive Technology Development Co.
While it’s not hard to understand why investors got cold feet, would-be dealers are left holding the bag as the publication says they’ll lose their deposits of between $100,000 (£73,126 / €84,750) and $175,000 (£127,970 / €148,312) per store. Adding insult to injury, a few dealers reportedly put deposits down for as many as five dealerships.
As a refresher, Chery-based Vantas and T-GO models were originally slated to cost 15-20% less than their competitors and be available with “one-price, no-hassle, no-haggle pricing.” There were also plans for an extensive T-GO lineup that included everything from crossovers and SUVs to a pickup and a car.
Last year brought the end to more than 20 vehicles. Halfway into 2021, automakers have already announced nine models headed toward indefinite retirement for the 2022 model year. Some, like the Volvo V60 and V90 wagons, will see parts of themselves live on. And arguably the best version of Hyundai’s Veloster will continue. Others, like the Volkswagen Passat and Honda Clarity are getting booted to make room for more electrified lineups in the future.
The Honda Clarity EV was discontinued in 2020, killing the only fully electric Honda in the United States market. And now, the remaining plug-in hybrid and hydrogen fuel-cell versions are gone too. Honda says the Clarity will be available as a lease through 2022, with Clarity FCV leases limited to California. The Clarity’s departure leaves the Hyundai Nexo and Toyota Mirai as the only two FCVs available in the U.S. By that, we mean only in California. Although Clarity sales nearly matched the Chevrolet Bolt in 2019, last year wasn’t as fruitful with just 1617 units moved. The Clarity FCV qualifies for up to $5000 in California Clean Vehicle rebates, an HOV lane pass, and a fuel card for $15,000 worth of hydrogen fueling from Honda. The silver lining here is that Honda is likely making room for new models as part of their plan to sell only battery-electric and hydrogen vehicles by 2040.
The compact-car segment loses another player to team SUV. Hyundai’s beloved three-door hatchback is outta here. Although one of the cheapest cars sold today is leaving us, the 275-hp Veloster N lives on (at least for another year) while the Korean automaker shifts focus to its more popular Kona and Venue SUVs. And we’ll remind you that the Veloster N, equipped with the eight-speed dual-clutch transmission we tested last year, was the second-quickest front-wheel-drive car we’ve ever tested. Just 2205 Velosters have been sold in the first six months of 2021. That pales in comparison to current Kona sales at 50,996. The Venue has moved 15,050 units, outselling the Accent and the Ioniq. Now that Hyundai is busy engineering new rides for its all-electric E-GMP platform, there’s not much room for models that don’t sell. Next year there will be just four cars in Hyundai’s 10-model lineup.
Back in 2015 we fit six all-wheel-drive subcompact crossovers into a former staffer’s backyard because they were toylike and well, his backyard was a big playground. The Mazda CX-3 won big in that snack-size comparison test. It beat the Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, Kia Soul, Fiat 500X, and the Chevrolet Trax. Unfortunately, in 2022, the CX-3 is the loser. Even in a package with less cargo space than its smallest sedan and hatchback, Mazda’s suspension tuning was optimized for low body roll without turning the ride into a pogo stick. Its biggest