Mexico August 2014: Nissan, Chevrolet & Toyota impress

September 17th, 2014 No comments

Toyota Corolla Mexico August 2014Toyota sales are up 47% year-on-year in Mexico in August.

* See the Top 30 best-selling brands by clicking on the title! *

Weirdly, this month the AMDA did not publish any models data for the first time BSCB has been following monthly figures for Mexico, only brands data. We sincerely hope this is a fluke and all will return to normal next month… In any case Mexican new car sales are in great shape this month, up a huge 18% year-on-year to 103,881 registrations, an all-time record August score in Mexico and the first time over 100,000 new cars found a buyer in August. This exceptional performance brings the year-to-date total to 700,452 units, up 3.5% on 2013. In the lead, Nissan is up 20% to 25.5% share, followed by Chevrolet (+37%) and Volkswagen (+3%) while Toyota (+47%), Mercedes (+37%) and Isuzu (+47%) also impress. Newcomer for 2014, Hyundai remains at the Top 10s’ doorstep at #11 with 1.3% market share.

Previous month: Mexico July 2014: Chevrolet Spark on podium

One year ago: Mexico August 2013: VW Clasico confirms top spot

Full August 2014 Top 30 models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: Mexico

Coast to Coast 2014: Charleston, South Carolina

September 17th, 2014 No comments

1. Ford F250 Charleston 2Ford F250 in Charleston SC

* See the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title! *

After driving from Washington DC through Virginia, North & South Carolina, we are now in Charleston SC. I know a lot of you live in town and have already predicted the type of cars I would see depending on which area of town I travel to. So I need to preface my observations by saying I spent some time in North Charleston, Downtown Charleston and Ashley River as this will impact the landscape I have observed. As it has been the case since the beginning of this road trip it is a unique landscape once again in Charleston.

2. Ford F150 Ranger Charleston 21973 Ford F150 Ranger in Charleston SC

The first observation is the strength of the Chrysler brand in this area compared to the regions I previously traversed, with the 300 and 200 (both the previous Sebring-facelift generation and the spectacular current one) more frequent as well as quite a few Pacifica indicating very solid sales when the model was still part of the Chrysler range. More significantly, Charleston is the first city where I could spot a very clear heritage of pick-up trucks with many older models parked throughout town, showing a decades-long history of domination of this type of vehicle.

3. Albert Charleston 1Albert pretending to be a big Charleston home owner…

And of course a lot more new pick-ups here than I have seen so far, with the usual suspects leading the way: the Ford F-Series is the most popular, with the Chevrolet Silverado, Ram and Toyota Tacoma also strong but not that many GMC Sierra or Toyota Tundra. Getting more granular, Charleston is the first city where I’m noticing the popularity of the F250 and, to a lesser extent, F350 variants as opposed to the F150. Ford doesn’t easily share sales split by variant, grouping each one into the “F-Series” nameplate, partly to ensure its best-seller the #1 overall spot each year, whereas the F250 and up differ quite significantly from the F150.

4. Albert Charleston 2…and again…

During my last US trips about 6-7 years ago I had hardly noticed any other variant other than the F150. In Charleston, the most popular F-Series truck was not the F150 but the F250, sometimes in a 2-door variant I didn’t even know existed. This is a pretty significant evolution that seems to have happened only during the last generation of the model. Further cities visited along this trip will confirm that trend as you will see.

5. Dodge Ram vintage 2 Charleston1981 Dodge Ram in Charleston SC

2015 Ford F1502015 Ford F150

I am in touch with Ford US to try and establish the ratio of F250 and F350 within F-Series sales nationally as this would be a great indication of where this trend is going. To me another hint is the new generation F150 which will hit dealerships this November, arguably closer to the current F250/350 than the F150 – confirming my observations. In any case, I am making the Ford F250 the Hero in Town for Charleston.

6. Ford F250 Charleston 6Ford F250 in Charleston SC

As I mentioned above, this F150 vs. the rest observation is mainly valid for tradesman/commercially-used pick-up trucks and along with the increased amount of pick-up trucks here compared to the places I had visited thus far, there are also a lot more tradesman/base variants on the road, like the one I am driving – Albert, who is feeling more and more at home in this trip.

7. Toyota Corolla CharlestonToyota Corolla in Charleston SC

On the opposite end of the scale, Charleston drivers also seem to love particularly small cars, with a lot more Nissan Versa Note, new Honda Fit and Hyundai Accent here than up until now. As it has now been the case everywhere I’ve been so far, the new generation Chevrolet Tahoe / Suburban / GMC Yukon / XL is appearing in the streets way more often than its national ranking would lead us to expect. When is this going to stop and why is this nameplate not ranking higher overall?

8. Albert Charleston 3Albert in Charleston SC

Last observations are a surprisingly strong heritage of Honda Element which seem to simply have been among the best-sellers in Charleston at the height of its career, as well as already quite a few new generation GMC Acadia. Next step: Savannah in Georgia. Stay tuned!

9. Ram 1500 Nissan Sentra CharlestonQuick size check: Albert vs. Nissan Sentra

The Full Photo Report is below!

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Cyprus August 2014: Volvo XC60 now #4 year-to-date!

September 16th, 2014 No comments

Volvo XC60 Cyprus August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frVolvo XC60

* See the Top 30 best-selling models by clicking on the title! *

Thanks to data provided by SEMO Cyprus and analysed by INNOSOFT, I can share with you the models ranking for Cyprus over the first 8 months of 2014. Over the period, new car sales in the country are up 16% year-on-year to 5,676 registrations, however August is down 11% year-on-year to 465 units. Great performers this month include the VW Golf, #1 in August and #6 year-to-date, the Nissan Qashqai and Toyota RAV4 equal-#2 in August and #2 and #13 respectively so far in 2014, the Renault Captur at #4 in August and #23 year-to-date and the Volvo XC60 up to #4 so far in 2014 thanks to 190 sales and 3.3% share.

Previous month: Cyprus July 2014: Nissan Qashqai in the lead

Previous year: Cyprus Full Year 2013: Ford Fiesta keeps lead in market down 32%

Full 8 months 2014 Top 30 models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: Cyprus

Singapore August 2014: Toyota/Lexus and Nissan in great shape

September 15th, 2014 No comments

Lexus NX Singapore August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comLexus NX

* See the Top 33 All-brands ranking by clicking on the title! *

New car sales in Singapore shoot up a gargantuan 48% overall in August to an excellent 2,589 registrations, lifting the year-to-date total to 17,178 units, up 13% on 2013. This month’s results was significantly helped by Toyota/Lexus’s 79% year-on-year surge to 558 sales and 21.6% market share vs. 19.2% so far in 2014. August is the 6th consecutive month the Japanese carmaker tops Singaporean sales charts, which seem to have come back some kind of normality after crowing BMW over the Full Year 2011 and 2012 and Mercedes in 2013. Both German manufacturers follow suit this month: BMW at 13.4% share vs. 12.7% year-to-date and Mercedes at 12.2% vs. 17.2%. Notice also Nissan up a huge 279% on August 2013 at #5, Mazda up 91%, Honda up 87%, Kia up 98%, Subaru up 192% and Citroen up 169%.

Previous month: Singapore July 2014: Mazda, Honda and Nissan shoot up

One year ago: Singapore August 2013: BMW tops the charts with 20% share

Full August 2014 Top 33 All-brands Ranking Table below.

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Categories: Singapore

Pakistan August 2014: Toyota Corolla back to #1 year-to-date

September 14th, 2014 No comments

Toyota Corolla Pakistan August 2014. Picture courtesy of Motoringme.comThe new generation Toyota Corolla is now produced and sold in Pakistan (UAE model pictured).

* See the Top 15 best-selling local models by clicking on the title! *

As usual for Pakistan I can share with you sales of models produced locally which give a pretty accurate picture of the new vehicle market in the country given import taxes are too high to allow any significant imports. A local market back in positive territory in August at +10% year-on-year to 12,258 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 94,842 units, still down 5% on 2013. The event this month atop the sales charts is the Toyota Corolla back in the year-to-date pole position after a very wobbly July score when it was down to #5. Thanks to the new model now available in the country, the Corolla sells 3,515 units in August for a 28.7% share, a 34% improvement on August 2013, its advantage over the Suzuki Mehran (almost 1,200 units) enables it to reclaim the 2014 ytd lead thanks to 20,400 sales and 21.5% share vs. 19,613 and 20.7% for the Mehran. Note a slight fragmentation of the market with the Corolls down from 25.3% share a year ago and the Mehran down from 22.3%. Other great performers this month in Pakistan include the Toyota Hilux up 90% year-on-year in 8th place and the Toyota Fortuner up 63% at #11.

Previous month: Pakistan July 2014: Honda City up to 2nd place

One year ago: Pakistan August 2013: Honda City on podium

Full August 2014 Top 15 models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: Pakistan

USA August 2014: Honda Accord, Toyota RAV4 at all-time high

September 14th, 2014 8 comments

Honda Accord USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe Honda Accord hits its highest-ever monthly volume in the US this month.

* NOW UPDATED with the Top 261 All-models and Top 38 brands! See title *

U.S. light vehicle sales, led by double-digit increases at Chrysler Group and Nissan Motor Corp, remained robust in August, helped by Labor Day holiday deals and continued demand for light trucks and crossovers: up 6% year-on-year to 1.586.374 units and bringing the year-to-date total to 11.191.068 sales, up 5% on 2013. Chrysler posted a 20% increase amid surging sales of the Ram pickup (+33% and best August since 2003) and Jeep brand (+49%). Nissan advanced 12%, Toyota Motor Corp. had its 6th consecutive monthly gain, up 6%. Deliveries slipped 1% at General Motors and were up slightly at Ford Motor Co. The Volkswagen brand continued to slump, down 13% percent, but sibling Audi gained 22% as strong A3 sedan sales propelled the brand to its best monthly US sales tally in company history at 17,101 vehicles in August.

Audi A3 USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe New A3 sedan pushes Audi to its best-ever monthly result in the US.

The seasonally adjusted annualised pace of sales – a key barometer of the industry’s health – soared to 17.5 million. The US auto industry last saw a 17 million light-vehicle SAAR in July 2006 and a 17.5 million SAAR in January 2006. “August’s industry sales results are looking even stronger than anticipated, which is a good sign for the industry,” said Fred Diaz, Nissan’s senior vice president for sales and marketing, and US operations. “The industry had its best August in over a decade with sales topping 1.5 million vehicles,” Bill Fay, Toyota division group vice president and general manager, said in a statement.

Jeep Wrangler USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comJeep US sales are up 49% year-on-year in August .

In the models ranking, below the Ford F-Series down 4% to 68,109 sales, the Honda Accord is up 3 spots on July and 32% on August 2013 to simply deliver the nameplate’s best-ever monthly volume since its introduction in the country over 30 years ago at 51,075 units! An astounding performance from Honda, however the Toyota Camry still leads the passenger car race by far at 306,471 sales so far in 2014 (+7%) vs. 265,673 for the Accord (+3%). Another all-time record breaker this month is the Toyota RAV4: after lifting its all-time high to 26,779 sales in July, it smashes this record only one month later, bringing it to 35,614 units, up 52% year-on-year and earning the nameplate a 6th place, also its best-ever monthly ranking in the US, also reached in March 2010…

Acura TLX USA August 2014. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comThe Acura TLX lands directly at #136 in the US this month.

As far as recent launches are concerned, notice the Audi A3 up a further two spots to #132 with 2,430 sales, the Lincoln MKC also up two to #157, the Ford Transit up 31 to #177, the BMW i3 up a beautiful 37 ranks on July to #182 with 1,025 units and the BMW X4 up 12 to #220. Finally, we welcome 3 all-new models in the US ranking this month: the Acura TLX at #136 with 2,286 sales, the Audi Q3 enjoying a late arrival in the country at #235 and 243 units for now and the BMW i8 landing at #260 with 9 sales in August.

Previous post: USA 7 months 2014: Discover the Top 270 models

Previous month: USA July 2014: Toyota RAV4 at all-time record in market up 9%

One year ago: USA August 2013: Honda CR-V and Chevrolet Equinox hit record levels

Full August 2014 Top 261 All-models and Top 38 brands Ranking Tables below.

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Categories: USA

Iran August 2014: Saipa Tiba above Iran Khodro Samand

September 14th, 2014 No comments

Saipa Tiba Iran April 2014Change of guard in progress: the Saipa Tiba is above the Iran Khodro Samand this month.

* See the Top 8 most produced local models by clicking on the title! Thanks OD *

As is the tradition on BSCB, Iranian monthly data reflects production, not sales but it actually gives a relatively close picture of the most popular cars in the country given the high import duties. In the Persian calendar, August 2014 is roughly equivalent to the 5th month of the Persian year 1393, Mordad. The Iranian automobile industry continues its recovery with production up 84% year-on-year in Mordad to 64,297 units, bringing the 1393 year-to-date total to 391,969 units after 5 months, more than double the score of one year ago. The Top 3 models all progress but slower than the market: the Saipa Pride is up 55%, the Peugeot Pars up 59% and the Peugeot 405 up 50%. In 4th position the Peugeot 206 is reborn again at +190% to 6,817 units while the Saipa Tiba is up one spot on last month to #5 with 6,211 units produced, up 171% year-on-year. This means the Tiba is above the Iran Khodro to become the 2nd most produced native Iranian model for the first time in a ‘normal’ context, the only other one being in April 2013 when overall production was down to just 22,000 units. A change of guard in progress?

Previous month: Iran July 2014: Peugeot 206 comes back to life

One year ago: Iran August 2013: Renault withdraws, Peugeot Pars up 32%

Full Mordad 1393 / August 2014 Top 8 models Ranking Table below.

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Categories: Iran

US Coast to Coast: Driving through Virginia, North & South Carolina

September 13th, 2014 1 comment

Nissan Rogue Virginia. Picture courtesy of motortrend.comNot my picture, but the Hero of the Day: the Nissan Rogue

After New York City and Washington DC, we continue South on the Interstate 95 Highway to cross Virginia via a detour to Williamsburg, then North and South Carolina to arrive in Charleston. As soon as we leave the Washington urban area, the vehicle landscape starts to progressively change to allow more pick-up trucks on the road. My Ram 1500 4×4 (Albert) is now starting to feel less out of his comfort zone and more and more at home…

Before I share with you in detail the vehicle landscape I encountered in this part of the trip, now that I have driven over 750 miles (1200 km) on US roads I thought it would be a good time to give you my first impressions on what driving in the United States feels like. I have just spent the past couple of months in Southern Europe where driving is a tiring chest-bumping sport aimed at showing who’s boss on the road. The French have had to be beaten into submission by hundreds of unforgiving speed radars for the most part located in unclear or lower speed limit zones to maximise revenue, but that hasn’t deterred many radar-savvy locals to flash through the highway at over 130 mph (200 km/h).

New York-CharlestonUS Coast to Coast trip so far

However to this day I still am yet to spot a true American lunatic driving frankly dangerously – and I will be just fine if I never do. I have found American highways one of the most relaxing and predictable driving experiences of my life. Unlike in Australia where effective advertising campaigns have convinced car owners to drive 5 km/h below the speed limit (true story), Yankees all pretty much drive at speed limit or slightly above, and there are no sluggish cars to disrupt the traffic, making us look like we are all in cruise controlled trains enjoying the landscape and waving at each other hands-free.

RAM 1500 Ford Fusion EmporiaAlbert next to a Ford Fusion in Emporia VA

I have learnt that to insert myself fluidly into US highway traffic a good idea is to drive 5 mph above the speed limit, which goes as high as 70mph (113km/h). I may or may not have done that… It’s a high enough difference to satisfyingly beat all Google Maps route duration predictions by a large margin (the tradesman trim of my Ram does not have a sat nav), but small enough to avoid bothering local sheriffs… so far. While European driving is unmistakably associated with road rage and arrogant behavior, at no point have I seen anyone flashing their lights to overtake. I’m sure some of you will disagree but this is coming from someone who drove in France for almost 20 years, I am happily surprised at how civilised and patient everyone and is on the road.

Chevrolet Impala North CarolinaThe Chevrolet Impala is also very popular here.

There is one thing that did shock me at first though. For all their wild driving, one thing French drivers will consider sacrilege is overtaking on the right. This is considered a highly offensive, let alone illegal manoeuvre in Europe: a way to scream to the other driver that he/she really drives like a … Given in the US everyone drives roughly at the same speed, overtaking appears to be done on each side and I did get offended when that happened. Add to this that from the height of my truck, a Mazda Miata-type coupé is almost invisible on my rear mirrors when it sneaks up from the right, especially when I don’t expect anything to come by from that side. Oh well, I got used to it.

2013 Coachmen Encounter. Picture courtesy of imcdb.com2013 Coachmen Encounter RV in movie “We’re the Millers”

Now onto the vehicle landscape. First things first, a very striking observation: all the way since New York I have been spotting a constant flow of RVs. But not your traditional LCV transformed into an RV, German family style. No. The big ass RVs like the one you saw in Hollywood movie ‘We’re the Millers’ (pictured above) and costing well above $100,000 to purchase. Given this flow abruptly stopped as soon as I drove North-West through Georgia I will assume these RVs are rentals that are headed towards Florida and/or the sunbelt for the holidays.

Best seller by stateStates in blue have the Ford F-Series as best-seller…

If Virginia’s best-seller is the Honda Accord (hard to pick from the highway landscape), crossing the border to North Carolina means you enter Ford F-Series territory (blue on the map above), a zone I will remain in almost the whole way to Los Angeles except in Oklahoma (Nissan Altima) and California (Honda Civic). I stepped out of the highway in Colonial Williamsburg (I highly recommend this massive historical village eerily wifi-enabled – makes for a slightly asynchronistic experience) and there the Ford F-Series and, surprisingly, Toyota Tundra were the most frequent.

RAM 1500 WilliamsburgAlbert in Williamsburg VA

The Hero in ‘Town’ (although we are talking about 3 different States) is the Nissan Rogue and by far. I saw dozens of the new generation all the way through this part of the trip and this has to come to consumer preference or a huge deal with rental companies as this model isn’t manufactured in these States but in Smyrna, Tennessee. The new gen Chevrolet Impala is also extremely popular in this part of the United States, and I also spotted two Tesla Model S which would seem to indicate that the success of this electric car isn’t limited to California and big cities. Next stop is Charleston in South Carolina…

France August 2014: Toyota Yaris hits highest ever Nippon ranking at #7 in worst month in 38 years

September 11th, 2014 10 comments

Toyota Yaris France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Toyota Yaris is up to a historical 7th place this month in France!

* NOW UPDATED with actuals for the Top 60 models and Top 15 brands - Thanks Marie-Dominique *

While the rest of Europe is enjoying a slow but steady recovery, the French new car market is stuck in muddy waters. One year ago, August broke the sad record of slowest month of new car sales in the country in 37 years. This year with one less working day in the month, the picture is even worse: down 3% to 83,340 registrations, with the year-to-date total now up by just 1.6% on 2013 at 1,185,851 units. This makes August 2014 the lowest monthly score in 38 years, since the 83,000 units registered in August 1976, and the third weakest month in the past 40 years below the 69,426 units of August 1975. For further perspective, we are looking at lower sales than in May 1968 (90,352) when the country was all but paralised by the biggest student protests in its history.

Renault 5 France 1976The last time we witnessed such a slow month of sales in France, the Renault 5 was #1…

Month Sales
August-65 36,773
August-67 40,947
August-66 46,065
August-70 46,791
August-68 47,075
August-71 60,417
August-69 61,164
August-74 64,188
June-68 67,368
January-65 67,909
August-75 69,426
September-69 69,682
August-72 70,662
August-73 74,839
September-65 75,970
September-68 78,618
February-65 80,516
July-67 81,741
September-66 82,330
August-76 83,000
August-14 83,340

On a positive note, if we extend the reference frame to the past 50 years (see above – August 1965 to now), August 2014 ranks at a less depressing #21 lowest monthly score. You could argue these results are slightly biased by the fact that August is traditionally and by far the slowest month of the year with Summer holidays at their peak. So this even weaker than normal result won’t end up having much of an impact on the annual results, it only shows that French car buyers are delaying their new car purchase to potentially after the Paris Motor Show in October which could bring a welcome boost to the market. Renault reclaims the lead of the brands ranking in spite of sales down 14% to 14,012 and 16.8% share, ahead of Peugeot (-4%) and Citroen (-1%) while Volkswagen rebates itself into a 26% surge to 9% share. In a month only favourable to foreign manufacturers, Toyota (+16%), Ford (+40%), Mini (+24%) and Skoda (+25%) also shine.

VW Golf France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe VW Golf also reaches its best-ever ranking in France this month.

Model-wise, August is always the month of records in France as a much smaller market means promotions have a more visible impact and the ranking becomes very volatile, and this year is no exception. Below the Renault Clio IV (5.5%) and Peugeot 208 (5.1%), the Peugeot 308 II is back on the podium for the 2nd time in the past 4 months. The Dacia Sandero is up 7 ranks to #4, its highest ranking since last January and with the Duster at #10 we have two Dacias in the monthly French Top 10 for only the second time in history with last April. But it’s below that we have more spectacular developments… Pushed by aggressive rebates, the VW Golf VII is up to 5th place thanks to 2,391 sales and 2.9% share. This is simply the nameplate’s highest ever ranking in France, last reached… 22 years ago in December 1992 (this information is TBC).

Ford C-Max France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frFord is up 41% year-on-year in France in August.

The locally-produced Toyota Yaris for its part is up 10 ranks on July to an unbelievable 7th position at 2,170 units and 2.6%, mainly due to 899 sales to dealerships. This is the third time the Yaris ranks inside the monthly French Top 10 after January and March 2007 and the highest ever ranking reached by a Japanese model in France, beating the previous best of #9 by the Toyota Yaris itself in January 2007 and the Nissan Qashqai in March 2013. To round up a month of foreign highlights, the VW Polo at #9 makes it 3 foreigners in the Top 9, something we haven’t seen in years.

Renault Twingo France August 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frFirst real month of sales for the Renault Twingo III at home: #13

Further down, the new generation Renault Twingo III delivers its first ‘real’ month of sales at #13 with 1,886 units, the Citroen C4 Cactus remains solid at #22 and 1.1% share, the Toyota Auris is up 7 spots on last month to a best-ever #23 (previous best: #26 last January), the Audi A3 at #24, Opel Mokka at #26, Ford Kuga up 12 ranks to a record #42 (previous best: #45 in October 2012) and the BMW X1 up 11 to #47.

Previous post: France August 2014 Car Landscape Snapshot

Previous monthly post: France July 2014: Now with Top 300 models and Top 50 brands

Previous month: France July 2014: Citroen C4 Cactus in Top 20 in worst July since 1984

One year ago: France August 2013: Dacia Sandero & Renault Captur superstars in worst month in 37 years

Full August 2014 Top 50 models and Top 15 brands Ranking Tables below.

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Categories: France

USA Coast to Coast 2014: Washington DC

September 11th, 2014 7 comments

1. Toyota Corolla Washington Toyota Corolla in Washington DC (these ones are from Maryland – for illustration purposes)

* Click on any picture to enlarge and see the Full Photo Report by clicking on the title! *

After managing to drive through Manhattan and out unscathed, we are now travelling 250 miles South West to the country’s capital city, Washington DC. But first, I’ll answer a few of the questions you asked in my first article. I did parallel park my 6 by 2.5m Ram pick-up in Manhattan on a crowded West Village street only one hour into starting the engine and felt very proud. French being my mother tongue I never can get quite used to calling a truck a she: in French a truck is a he so my Ram will be referred to as Albert from now on… As a lot of you have noticed it is the Tradesman level, a trim that normally doesn’t get lent to the press which is why you haven’t seen it that much on car websites yet.

Dodge Durango Lincoln MKZ WashingtonDodge Durango and Lincoln MKZ in Washington DC

The Ram 1500 crew cab 4×4 I am driving has a US$35,805 base price. Add-in the Tradesman package including carpet flooring and satellite radio, 8-speed automatic transmission, 3.0-Liter V6 EcoDiesel engine and destination charge to arrive at US$40,495. Depending on the rebate you can negotiate with your dealer you can potentially get that back down to the base price or below. A lot of you have rightly asked about fuel economy. A road trip across the US in a pick-up truck immediately conjures up images of an endless flow of dollar bills being sunk into overly thirsty fuel tanks. Not so here.

Ram 1500 WashingtonAlbert proudly posing before the Capitol in Washington DC

Aware of the lengthy trip I was embarking in, Chrysler smartly lent me an EcoDiesel, launched only last February and one of the main reasons behind the nameplate’s sales surge in 2014. Back in February the EcoDiesel trucks set a new Ram record with the initial allocation of 8,000 units filled by dealers in just 3 days. Over that period the EcoDiesel variants represented half of all Ram 1500 pick-up orders and overall Ram expects EcoDiesel models to account for 15% of 1500 Series orders this year. So my Albert is quite the popular new kid on the block.

VW Jetta WashingtonVW Jetta in Washington DC

The reason behind this success? The EcoDiesel delivers 28 mpg highway, currently the best fuel economy for a full-size pick-up truck, compared to 24 mpg for the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and 23 mpg for the current Ford F-Series. The 4×4 variant I have gives up one mpg to 27. Ford launched a challenge to Ram’s mpg crown with its new generation aluminium-built F-Series which will start deliveries in February 2015, however at an estimated 27 mpg for the all-new 2.7-Liter stop-start V6 it doesn’t quite match the RAM EcoDiesel yet.

Chevrolet Silverado WashingtonChevrolet Silverado in Washington DC

All these claims but what happens in the real world? I won’t reset the mpg average at all during the entire trip, which should provide me with an all-trip average assuming Chrysler reset it before lending the truck to me. After 3 days and about 500 miles the mpg average stands at 25.3 keeping in mind there were 3 hours of virtual standstill in Manhattan – and therefore atrocious mpg – to begin with. So we are in line with a best-in-class score so far, and Albert is turning out to be not so thirsty after all.

Buick Enclave WashingtonBuick Enclave in Washington DC

Back to Washington DC, and this being a very small and touristy District, please bear in mind that my observations may not be limited to cars registered within Washington DC even though I tried to discard cars not registered here. As always this is not an exact science, rather a feel for the changing vehicle landscape as I traverse the country. State by state data published by Business Insider indicates that DC is the only State/territory in the country to crown the Toyota Corolla. And as it was the case in New York City, I am pleased to announce that street observations match sales data which is always a great validation. The new generation Corolla has already taken charge of the Washington traffic: I saw more of them in the few hours I was in the (relatively small) town than I saw in New York in 3 days!

Toyota Prius C WashingtonToyota Prius C in Washington DC

Overall my impression is that passenger cars are smaller than they were in New York City with less Toyota Camry and Honda Accord and more Nissan Sentra, Versa, Hyundai Elantra and VW Jetta. Case in point: I saw my first two Toyota Prius C of the trip here. Hyundai also seems to be enjoying very strong sales here: I spotted a few new generation Sonatas. Nissan is as solid as it was in New York with numerous Altima spotted but less Maxima – in line with the smaller car park.

2002 Saturn Ion Washington2002 Saturn Ion in Washington DC

I would like to be able to tell you that I saw more pick-ups here but this is only marginally the case and we are still frankly in sedan and SUV territory. The Toyota RAV4 did come across more frequently, both as taxis and private cars. A couple of more Washington observations: the most popular and almost only Jeep seems to be the Wrangler, the current generation Buick Enclave is a success as is the Tesla Model S and the Washington region has a love for the defunct Saturn brand: whereas I had not picked one up yet during the trip before, I spotted three 2002 Saturn Ion in the space of a few blocks!

Next we will be driving through Virginia, North and South Carolina to Charleston. Stay tuned!

Full Washington DC Photo Report below.

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