USA Coast to Coast 2014: Death Valley, California

November 26th, 2014 No comments

Albert Badwater with sea levelAlbert’s first incursion below sea level at Badwater, Death Valley CA

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

I give you the Photo Report for now, California sales data, Death Valley trivia and a review of how Albert coped with Death Valley heat will follow shortly.

Ford F-150 AmargosaFord F-150 at Amargosa Hotel, Death Valley Junction CA

3. Albert Death Valley 1There’s no denying it now Albert…

4. Death ValleyThe view upon Death Valley from Coffin Peak

5. Chevrolet Impala Coffin PeakChevrolet Impala in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

6. Albert mpg Coffin PeakAlbert’s mpg average right after the Coffin Peak climb – still a very good 24.2 mpg.

7. Chevrolet Spark Coffin PeakChevy Spark and a slew of rentals at Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

8. Albert Coffin Peak 3Albert in Coffin Peak, Death Valley CA

9. Chevron Furnace Creek 1Lucky we didn’t have to refuel here… (in Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA – 22 Sept 2014)

9b. Chevron Shoshone…nor here! (in Shoshone, Death Valley CA – 22 Sept 2014)

10. Ford E-350 Furnace CreekFord E-350 in Furnace Creek, Death Valley CA

11. Albert Devils Golf Course 3Albert at Devils Golf Course, Death Valley CA

12. Devils Golf Course 2Devils Golf Course, Death Valley CA

13. Devils Golf Course 3Devils Golf Course, Death Valley CA

14. BadwaterBadwater, Death Valley CA

14. Matt BadwaterIt’s bloody hot out here! In Badwater, Death Valley CA

15. Toyota Corolla BadwaterToyota Corolla in Badwater, Death Valley CA

The Full Photo Report (33 pictures) is below.

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Turkey October 2014: Renault Clio and Fluence on top

November 26th, 2014 No comments

Renault Clio Turkey October 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Renault Clio is the best-selling vehicle in Turkey this month.

* See the Top 44 All-brands and Top 253 All-models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to Yarım Debriyaj for this data.

Turkish new car sales are perking back up at a vigorous +15% year-on-year in October to 66,573 registrations, in contrast with a year-to-date total still down 16% on 2013 to 540,071 units. It’s the Light Commercial Vehicles that lift the market up at +43% to 15,759 deliveries, while Passenger Cars are up a more modest 8% to 50,814 sales. Brand-wise, Volkswagen keeps the lead in spite of sales down 1% to 13.7% share vs. 14.9% YTD. Renault is up 24% to 13.1% share and places the two models it produces in Turkey in its Bursa assembly plant the Clio (4.1%) and Fluence (4%) atop the models ranking and above the YTD leader, the Fiat Linea. Ford and Fiat both hold 10.5% of the Turkish market while Hyundai rounds up the Top 5 at 6.4%. Notice also BMW more than doubling its sales year-on-year at +122%, Mercedes up 66%, Dacia up 43% and Skoda up 75%.

Hyundai i20 Turkey October 2014. Picture courtesy of automagg.comHyundai i20

Outside the models sales charts podium, the Toyota Corolla is faithful to its 4th position, the Ford Courier LCV lodges a second month at #6 vs. #15 YTD, the locally-produced Hyundai i20 Troy is starting to feel the effects of the generation changeover (runout price of the outgoing model mixed with delivery of the first dealer vehicles), up to #7 vs. #11 YTD, the VW Golf is up to #9 vs. #14 YTD, the BMW 3 Series up to #16 and the Mercedes C-Class up to #28. Further down, the Citroen C4 Cactus is up 10 spots on September to #84 and the Jeep Renegade lands directly inside the Turkish Top 100 for its very first month of sales at #90 and 156 units, already and by far the brand’s best-seller in the country with 59% of the Jeep brand’s October sales!

Previous month: Turkey September 2014: Fiat Linea and Ford Transit in control

One year ago: Turkey October 2013: VW Jetta shoots up to top spot

Full October 2014 Top 44 All-brands and Top 253 All-models Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Turkey

USA Coast to Coast 2014: Las Vegas, Nevada

November 25th, 2014 No comments

Nissan Versa Albert Las VegasNissan Versa with Albert and Las Vegas in the background 

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

We are now leaving in our path beautiful Monument Valley to drive through Arizona and arrive in Las Vegas, Nevada. A very different official Top 5 best-selling models than the entirety of the dozen states we have just crossed, some crazy Vegas vehicles, the traditional car landscape analysis and all the things you didn’t know about the state of Nevada are below.

Ford F-150 Tonka Las VegasTonka-tuned Ford F-150 in Las Vegas NV

Although Nevada is mostly desert and happens to be the driest state in the entire United States, its name comes from the Spanish nevada, meaning “snow-covered”, after the Sierra Nevada, a mountain range now almost completely located in California. Confused? I was too. Daytime summer temperatures rise as high as 125 °F (52 °C) compared to nighttime winters getting as cold as −50 °F (−46 °C). Surely one of the widest temperature differences in the whole country. The land corresponding to present day Nevada used to be part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, becoming Mexico in 1821, then gained by the United States in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. Nevada became the 36th state in 1864, as the second of two states added to the Union during the Civil War- the first being West Virginia).

Chevrolet C3500 Las VegasChevrolet C3500 in Las Vegas NV

Population-wise, talking about Nevada roughly equates talking about Las Vegas, as over two thirds of the 2.8m strong population of the state lives in the Clark County – Las Vegas metropolitan area. This also means around 75% of all cars roaming the state do so in or around Las Vegas, having a big impact on which nameplates are the most popular here as we’ll see shortly.  With a population of just 40,000 in 1900, Nevada was then and by far the least populated state in the country, however establishment of legalised gambling and lenient marriage and divorce laws transformed the state into a major tourist destination, with the myriad of jobs associated with it. Also, Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal, though it is illegal in Clark County and Washoe County which contain Las Vegas and Reno, respectively.

Ford F-150 Las Vegas 2Ford F-150 in Las Vegas NV

From the end of World War II onwards all the way up to 2003, Nevada’s population was the fastest-growing in the US percentage-wise. For example, between 1990 and 2000, Nevada’s population increased 66%, while the USA’s population as a whole increased by just 13%. This population increase owes a lot to immigration rather than natural growth, and today, the majority of the population in Las Vegas and Reno (the two main metropolitan areas in the state) was born in another state or country. Also worthy of note is the fact that in 2010, illegal immigrants constituted an estimated 8.8% of the population, the highest percentage of any state in the country.

Nowadays the fastest-growing areas have ‘migrated’ (no pun intended) to the outskirts of Las Vegas, with northern suburbs  Henderson and North Las Vegas among the USA’s top 20 fastest-growing cities of over 100,000. Final piece of trivia: the capital importance of tourism in Nevada translates into a record: the most hotel rooms per capita in the United States. Nevada has one hotel room for every 14 residents, compared to a national average of one hotel room per 67 residents.

5. Nissan Altima Las VegasThe Nissan Altima, not the Ford F-150, is the best-selling vehicle in Nevada. 

Best-selling light vehicles in Nevada – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Nissan Altima 4,590
2 Toyota Corolla 3,923
3 Hyundai Elantra 3,280
4 Toyota Camry 3,243
5 Ford F-150 2,781

Source: JATO Dynamics

Instead of speculating any further, now that you know everything worth knowing about Nevada, let’s get straight into official sales figures, courtesy of JATO Dynamics. And what a different sales charts this is. Due to the almost total urbanisation of the population, pickup sales are very, very much lower than almost every other state in the country. The best-selling pickup is, expectedly, the Ford F-150 but it only ranks 5th here with 60% of the leader’s sales. If you have been following this series for a while now the best-seller in Nevada won’t really be a surprise…

6. Toyota Corolla Las VegasThe Toyota Corolla is #2 in Nevada. Here in Las Vegas about to get a hair cut AND a tattoo.

We have seen that as we get closer to Mexico, Nissan gets stronger and stronger in the sales charts. This reflects the growing share of Hispanics in the states’ population and their preference for Japanese and Korean brands, notably Nissan which is by far the most popular manufacturer in Mexico with 1 in every 4 sales. The Nissan Altima then very logically takes the lead of the Nevada sales charts in 2013, with 17% more sales than the Toyota Corolla, making its first appearance in the official Top 5 of any state we have crossed so far at #2. The Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Camry make up the rest of a Top 4 100% non-American. For more detail on the car buying preferences of America’s ethnic population check out the New Mexico article here.

7. Toyota Tundra Las VegasWalmart and Toyota Tundra: two staples of the Las Vegas landscape.

Outside the official Top 5 best-sellers, the following nameplates struck me as particularly successful in Las Vegas. The Nissan Versa is the Hero in Town with a large proportion dedicated to rentals, with the Sentra also very frequent. We’ve seen that pickup trucks are markedly less popular here than almost all states we have visited so far bar perhaps New York and Washington DC, and this is verified in Vegas streets. The Toyota Tundra could come as ‘high’ as #2 pickup truck in Vegas after the F-150 based on its frequency in the areas of town I have visited. I also spotted a few new generation Chrysler 200 (almost certainly rentals) and an unusually high amount of Toyota Avalon.

Albert Nissan Versa Note Las VegasAlbert smartly posing next to an Albertsons sign and Nissan Versa Note near Henderson NV

Not unlike in Albuquerque, driving away from the overly touristic Vegas Strip is the perfect way to get lost in deserted streets and come face-to-face with a flurry of cool, vintage pickups, some of them almost in mint condition. Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado or all ages still grace the back streets of Las Vegas today. The taxis in circulation in the city are also a unique mix of previous gens Chevy Impala and Malibu, previous gen Ford Escape hybrid, Dodge Grand Caravan, Scion xB (the first time I see such an important a fleet of Scion taxis during this trip) and Toyota Prius. Trying to be eco-friendly here, the taxis of Las Vegas, as if to be forgiven for all the sinning (?) happening on a daily basis in town.

Las Vegas gas priceLas Vegas gas Cash and Credit price difference

I know what you’re thinking: here I am writing a report about Las Vegas and there hasn’t been any exclamation mark in sight yet. The casinos! The Strip! The gambling! The lights! The Wynn Hotel! The wedding chapels inside the casinos! The Cirque du Soleil shows! Alcohol! Drugs! Food buffets! Cigars! Vice! I guess I must be getting old, or I have been here too many times already. This is the third time in fact, and although the first two left me mesmerised by so much excess, so much money flowing into oblivion and so much air conditioning in the middle of the desert, this time I found Vegas tired.

Dodge Ram Las VegasDodge Ram at Casino Royale, Las Vegas NV

Perhaps it was just me that was starting to get tired, with now almost 5000 miles since my New York departure. I found the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show very professional, enthusiastic but copy-pasted, the Strip actually rather depressing under the rain, and the Top of the World panoramic restaurant’s waitresses’ smile just that tad bit too forced to make us feel really welcome. But I’m sure Vegas will be reborn shortly, as it has done so many times in the past.

The Full Photo Report (17 pictures) continues below.

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Media post: 5 of the worst selling cars of all time & why they failed

November 25th, 2014 No comments

Ford EdselFord Edsel

Car manufacturers spend millions of pounds creating their vehicles, from initial concept and design through to the marketing campaign intended to encourage millions of motorists to purchase them. At least that’s the idea.

Automotive history is littered with examples of cars that have spectacularly failed to make any sort of impact on the driving public, much to the embarrassment of the brands that were responsible for them. Read on as UK-based vehicle breakers Sell the Car list the five cars that should’ve just been scrapped.

Pontiac G3

Pontiac G3

Sold 6,233

More a result of GM’s eventual demise in 2009 rather than anything hugely wrong with the car itself, the G3 was ultimately awarded the title of shortest-lived Pontiac after the brand was necessarily discontinued. If for whatever reason (perhaps you were hit on the head?) you were keen on owning a Pontiac G3 then the Chevy Aveo is essentially its clone, and was produced beyond 2009.

Acura ZDX

Acura ZDX

Sold 5,677

People rarely buy performance vehicles for their practicality – a good job in the case of the Acura ZDX; the sloping roof rendered the back seats suitable only for children or small adults, while cargo space was also significantly reduced. However the Acura ZDX, which was essentially a second-gen MDX didn’t even out perform its older cousin in terms of handling, being equalled or bettered by it in ever performance category tested by Edmunds.com. The ZDX went on to sell fewer than 6,000 units, unsurprising given that it seemed to offer nothing innovative or greatly appealing.

Lexus IS300 Sportcross

Lexus IS 300 SportCross

Sold 3,078

Selling a ridiculously disappointing 3,078 units since its release in 2002, the Lexus IS 300 SportCross suffered primarily from being incredibly unremarkable, failing both in terms of providing genuine practicality that it’s estate-style rear would suggest or the exciting performance or aesthetics that you’d like to see from a ‘Sport’ version of anything. Just look at the picture of the IS300 above. We expect the overriding emotion you feel is something along the lines of ‘meh’.

Ford Edsel

Sold 2,848

This auto marquee developed by Ford was such a flop that the name ‘edsel’ is now a by-word for a product that, although perfect in theory, fails miserably in reality. Overly stylised, massively overpriced and promoted via a marketing campaign that only showed the car through a blurred lens or underneath a tarpaulin, Ford got everything wrong with the Edsel – a harsh lesson in how not to manufacture vehicles.

Sell The Car Guest Blog image 2

Studebaker Wagonaire

Sold 940

Despite being manufactured from 1963 through to 1966 the Studebaker Wagonaire only mustered up a measly 618 unit sales, with some of the issue potentially being down to an early design flaw that saw roof leaks develop near the front of the sliding section. Service letters were sent to dealerships with the aim of addressing the problem, however it may have tarnished the vehicle’s image too greatly, despite boasting an otherwise sound design.

This guest blog was written by John Rooney on behalf of Sell the Car – buyers of cars, vans and motorbikes in all shapes and sizes for scrap.

Categories: Uncategorized

Bulgaria October 2014: Skoda Octavia shines, Dokker #1 YTD

November 25th, 2014 No comments

Skoda Octavia Bulgaria October 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe Skoda Octavia is the most popular vehicle in Bulgaria in October. Or is it?

* See the Top 30 best-selling brands and Top 175 models by clicking on the title. Thanks Kaloyan *

An estimated 2.177 new cars found a buyer in October in Bulgaria, up 3% on October 2013 and bringing the year-to-date total to 21.435 units, up 8% on 2013. Bulgaria sales figures however are skewed by re-exports to other European Union countries, with a large portion of new car sales in the country never making it to local roads – as much as 30% – thanks to Bulgaria displaying some of the lowest car prices in the EU. See here for more on this phenomenon. So the best-sellers in the monthly rankings are only hypothetical. Toyota becomes the #1 brand in October thanks to a round 10% with Dacia, Renault (both at 9.6%), Skoda (9%) and Volkswagen (8.8%) following. The Skoda Octavia jumps to pole position thanks to 113 units sold for a 5.2% market share, however the Dacia Dokker – down to #2 in October – remains the best-seller YTD ahead of the Nissan Qashqai. The Renault Captur (#4 in October) is now only 5 units below the Clio YTD. Notice also the Toyota Corolla up to #6, the Peugeot Boxer up to #7 and Renault Master up to #13, as well as the Lexus NX landing directly in 50th place with 14 sales.

Previous month: Bulgaria September 2014: Dacia Dokker and Duster on top

One year ago: Bulgaria October 2013: Nissan Qashqai #1, Dacia Dokker leads year-to-date

Full October 2014 Top 30 brands and Top 175 models Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Bulgaria

China LCV October 2014: Wuling Light Truck teases Rongguang

November 25th, 2014 No comments

10. Wuling Light TruckWuling Light Truck in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur – April 2014

* See the Top 55 local models by clicking on the title *

Thanks to LMC Automotive I can share with you today the Top 10 best-selling LCVs in China for October. This segment is one of the main culprits of the cooling off of the overall Chinese vehicle market in October, with sales of microvans down a very harsh 33% year-on-year while commercial trucks and buses are down 15%. The reason: a change in emission laws for commercial vehicles that has upped their retail price and delayed purchased from merchants. As a result the Wuling Rongguang is down to #8 overall vs. #4 YTD and is now threatened by its pickup variant the Wuling Light Truck at #9 and 24.598 sales vs. 24.910, the latter seemingly the only microLCV to survive the slaughtering this month. The Foton Forland ranks at a weak #20 vs. #13 YTD, the Chana Minibus is #30 vs. #11 and the Wuling Sunshine is standing on the brakes: down to #32 with a mere 13.039 sales vs. #5 YTD and a monthly average of 27.550 units so far this year. Talk about a fall of grace.

Previous China YTD post: China 10 months 2014: Discover the Top 379 models ranking

Previous China all-new models post: China October 2014: Focus on the all-new models

Previous China monthly post: China October 2014: Baojun 730 up to 6th place

Previous month: China 9 months 2014: Discover the Top 370 models ranking

One year ago: China October 2013: Ford Focus, Chevy Cruze, Haval H6 & Emgrand EC7 hit records

Full October 2014 Top 55 models Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: China

Latvia October 2014: Suzuki Jimny lands on top

November 25th, 2014 No comments

Suzuki Jimny Latvia October 2014. Picture courtesy instacarmodels.comThe Suzuki Jimny is the surprise Latvian October market leader.

* See the Top 30 All-brands and Top 75 models by clicking on the title *

First month of year-on-year decline for new light vehicle sales in Latvia, down 2% in October to 1,401 registrations. However the year-to-date total is still up by a flamboyant 17% to 12,473 units. Given its small size and the unofficial strength of re-exports inside the European Union, the Latvian brands and, particularly, models sales charts are very dependent on one-off promotions and special orders, and therefore always very volatile. October is a case in point with the Suzuki Jimny selling 117 units for a 8.4% market share whereas it had sold 4 units so far this year before October… The October Jimny score accounts for 91% of the Suzuki brand sales and 65% of the brand’s 2014 sales so far, single-handedly lifting it up to #3 manufacturer in October with 128 units and 9.1% vs. #28 in September and #21 year-to-date (181 sales and 1.5%). Local car registration body Autoassociation.lv has confirmed the totality of these Jimny sales has gone to re-export and none of them in fact hit Latvian roads…

BMW X5 Latvia October 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe BMW X5 is up to #12 this month in Latvia.

In other news, Volkswagen is particularly strong this month at 19.3% market share vs. 17.4% YTD, double the #2 Toyota a little weak at 9.5% vs. 12.1% YTD. Skoda (7.4%) is knocked down to #4 by Suzuki while Renault is up one spot to #5 and Nissan down one to #6. Model-wise, below the Jimny the VW Golf and Nissan Qashqai are both up one rank on September to #2 and #3 respectively, also their YTD rankings, the VW Passat is up two to #4, the Skoda Yeti down 3 to #5 but still leader YTD by far, the Renault Scénic up from outside the September Top 75 directly to #7 vs. #24 YTD, the VW Up up to #9 vs. #47 and the BMW X5 up to #12 vs. #38.

Previous post: Latvia: Dartz Prombron Black Shark to be produced at 10 units

Previous month: Latvia September 2014: Ford Focus sovereign

Previous year: Latvia Full Year 2013: VW Golf and Ford Focus on top

Full October 2014 Top 30 All-brands and Top 75 models Ranking Tables below.

Read more…

Categories: Latvia

Malaysia October 2014: Axia lifts Perodua up to 32.6% share

November 24th, 2014 No comments

Perodua Axia Malaysia October 2014. Pictre courtesy of cbt.com.myPerodua Axia

* See the Top 46 All-brands ranking by clicking on the title *

New car sales in Malaysia are down 2% year-on-year in October to 54,187 registrations, bringing the year-to-date total to 546,492 units, now up a very feeble 0.5% to a record 546,492 units after 10 months. Perodua shoots up to 32.6% share thanks to 17,683 sales, for the first time more than doubling its local competitor’s score: Proton is down to 15% share this month. Although there is still no official models data for Malaysia as the MyCC (Malaysian Competition Commission) prevents transparency in the industry by making it illegal for companies to share their model sales data as it believes this will cause prices to go up, this shift is most likely due to the large number of deliveries of the new Perodua Axia.

As at September 25, the company reported it had 20,000 bookings and more continued to be received daily. Proton had also launched the new Iriz but it is likely that deliveries had not commenced yet. According to local publication Motortrader, during this quarter the industry is expecting very challenging times, making another record year unlikely. The strict requirements in the Hire-Purchase (H-P) loan process slows down transactions, mainly affecting the lower end of the market which accounts for a large share. This strict policy, directed by Bank Negara, is expected to remain in force because of the need to prevent an excessively high number of defaulters and also to try to control growing household debt in the country.

Previous month: Malaysia September 2014: Honda and Nissan strong

One year ago: Malaysia October 2014: Market up 6%, still on track for record year

Full October 2014 Top 46 All-brands Ranking Table below.

Read more…

Categories: Malaysia

USA Coast to Coast 2014: Monument Valley, Arizona-Utah

November 23rd, 2014 No comments

Albert Monument Valley 1Albert all set for his first Hollywood movie.

You can see all my USA Coast to Coast Reports here! *

Many thanks to David Curry for the photos in this report.

I think most of you will agree that a Coast to Coast trip wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory stop at the very photogenic Monument Valley. So after pausing in New Mexico at Albuquerque and Gallup, we now drive north on US 163 to reach the legendary set of so many Hollywood Western movies, located across the Arizona/Utah state line. The vehicle landscape analysis, official sales data, a special feature on the most popular rental cars in the country, an update on how my valiant Ram 1500 ecoDiesel (Albert) is behaving and a healthy amount of spectacular and oh-so American pictures are below.

Gallup Las VegasToday’s New Mexico-Arizona-Utah-Nevada stretch, courtesy of Google Maps.

Ford F-150 ArizonaFord F-150 in Arizona

Crossing Arizona on the way to Monument Valley, the ratio of pickup trucks in the traffic goes up to 70% compared to around 60% in New Mexico before crossing the Arizona state line, logically as this is one of the most remote and rural parts of Arizona. The new generation GMC Sierra is stronger than usual, Ram pickups are now almost exclusively the Tradesman base model identical to the one I am driving (Albert) and there is a strong heritage of previous generation Chrysler 200 but no new gen yet. The Ford F-150 2-door base model like the one pictured above rules Arizona roads as it does in numerous U.S. states.

Nissan Altima Monument ValleyNissan Altima in Monument Valley AZ

The most recent Arizona sales data I managed to get my hands on dates back from the first half of 2012, courtesy of MSN Autos. At the time, the Ford F-150 logically topped the sales charts with 5,839 units, but the two other nameplates on the podium are a bit of a surprise: the Ford E-250 at #2 makes its first appearance that high in a sales ranking so far in this Coast to Coast trip, simply because rental company U-Haul registers most of its E-Series models in this state, and the Nissan Altima ranks third, confirming the trend that dictates U.S. states close to the Mexican border to particularly favour Nissans.

UPDATE: JATO Dynamics has now made Full Year 2013 data available to me for Arizona and the results are very different.

Best-selling light vehicle in Arizona – 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Chevrolet Silverado 8,022
2 Ford F-150 7,362
3 GMC Sierra 6,893
4 Ram Pickup 5,959
5 Toyota Camry 3,953

Source: JATO Dynamics

The Chevrolet Silverado spectacularly takes the lead thanks to the new model, it is the second state the Silverado wins so far in this Coast to Coast trip after Oklahoma. The F-150 comes at a close second followed by the GMC Sierra hitting its best state ranking so far (my observations are finding their confirmation here) and passing the Ram Pick-up. The Toyota Camry is the only passenger car in the Top 5.

Dodge Ram Monument ValleyDodge Ram 1500 in Monument Valley AZ

Even though we only dipped into Utah to enter the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, with the valley drive located entirely in Arizona, I thought it’d still be worthwhile sharing some official Utah models sales data, as this is what BSCB does after all!

UPDATE Best-selling light vehicles in Utah – Full Year 2013:

Pos Model 2013
1 Ram Pickup 5,211
2 Ford F-150 4,164
3 Chevrolet Silverado 3,212
4 Hyundai Elantra 2,425
5 Chevrolet Cruze 2,122

Source: JATO Dynamics

Surprise on top: the Ram pickup is the most popular vehicle in Utah, topping a state’s sales charts for the first time so far in this Coast to Coast trip thanks to 5,211 units sold state-wide, a comfortable 25% margin over the Ford F-150 in 2nd position. The Chevrolet Silverado logically rounds up the podium but the remaining two nameplates in the Top 5 appear at this level for the first time: the Hyundai Elantra brilliantly takes the lead of passenger cars at #4 ahead of the Chevrolet Cruze.

Monument Valley 1Monument Valley AZ

From halfway between Gallup and Monument Valley onwards, the majority of the traffic is composed of rental vehicles as this qualifies as one of the most touristic areas in the country. Most popular are the Chevrolet Captiva, Equinox and the ever-present Impala, Nissan Versa, Sentra and Kia Sorento. The Ford Explorer seems to be the only ‘legit’ Arizona success on our journey – read not rental-based. Not long ago, The Truth About Cars published info about America’s top rental cars and this confirms my observations in and around Monument Valley.

America Top rentals. Picture courtesy of Polk Automotive

In 2013, almost all Chevy Captivas (now discontinued) went to rental fleets and nearly 75% of GMC Yukon XL did. This is indeed a model I have encountered at a very high rate since the start of this Coast to Coast trip, along with the GMC Yukon coming at #7 and a bit above 40% and the Chevrolet Suburban at #8 and a round 40%. Unsurprisingly, the Chevrolet Impala is 4th in the list of cars with the highest sales ratio to rental fleets at just under 60% and the Chrysler 200 ranks 6th, while 3 Dodge close the Top 16: the Avenger, Caravan/Grand Caravan and Charger.

Monument Valley 2Monument Valley AZ

Now that we have cleared the sales aspects of both Arizona and Utah, let’s get into some Monument Valley trivia. This is the second time I visit this breathtakingly beautiful region, the first time was exactly 20 years ago. I will never forget how shocked I was that the area was actually so small, with in fact only a handful of these striking-looking buttes. These have featured in so many movies, ads and TV shows that if you have never visited the area it is easy to imagine that the entire West of the country looks like this. In the words of movie critic Keith Phipps: “Its five square miles have defined what decades of moviegoers think of when they imagine the American West.”

Stagecoach. Picture courtesy nytimes.comA scene of Hollywood movie Stagecoach set in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley has been featured in at least 50 Hollywood movies. The first one, John Ford’s 1939 film Stagecoach, starring John Wayne, has had an enduring influence in making the Valley famous. John Ford shot a whopping nine additional Westerns in the Valley, including My Darling Clementine (1946), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Wagon Master (1950), Rio Grande (1950), The Searchers (1956) and How The West Was Won (1962).

Albert Monument Valley 3Albert in Monument Valley AZ

Other notable Hollywood movies featuring Monument Valley include Billy the Kid (1941), Angel and the Badman (1947), Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Easy Rider (1968), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Thelma & Louise (1991)Forrest Gump (1994) and Mission: Impossible II (2000). Most recently, in 2014’s most popular movie at the worldwide box-office Transformers: Age of Extinctionthe scene in which the surviving Autobots reunite was shot in Monument Valley.

Monument Valley 3Monument Valley AZ

Monument Valley pickup trucksMonument Valley pickup trucks

The implied association with John Wayne’s tough, macho character also made the Monument Valley buttes a natural choice as the background for the Marlboro Man from the 1950s onwards. Finally, the rugged desert scenery for the Coyote and Road Runner cartoons takes much of its inspiration from Monument Valley.

Albert ArizonaAlbert getting some Love’s after being pushed hard.

This is the part of the trip where we pushed Albert a little more than before: the Monument Valley drive is 100% unsealed and at time rather abrupt climbs or drops. For the first time in this trip I was glad to be driving a pickup truck with a 4WD option rather than a standard sedan rattling its bumpers on scorched rocks. Don’t get me wrong this was no harsh terrain, but having to slow to an almost stop in order to negotiate ruts wasn’t uncommon. Also, the way to and from Monument Valley had very little traffic so we encouraged Albert all the way to 100mph and he seemed to enjoy this newfound freedom to its fullest. The result upon arrival in Las Vegas NV: a fuel economy shooting back up to 28.8mpg average! Well done Albert.

Albert mpg Vegas NVAlbert’s fuel economy after a day at high(er) speeds – and a morning parked under the sun, hence the extravagant outside temperature…

Toyota Camry Ford Escape Monument ValleyFord Escape, Toyota Camry and Albert at John Ford’s Point in Monument Valley AZ

The Full Photo Report (26 pictures) is below.

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Categories: Uncategorized

France 1-12 November 2014: Volkswagen above Renault

November 23rd, 2014 No comments

VW Polo France November 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe VW Polo is only 22 sales below the Renault Clio IV so far this month in France.

* See the Top 10 best-selling brands and models by clicking on the title *

Still no sign of improvement for the French new car market whereas the rest of Europe is taking off: sales are down 7% year-on-year over the first 12 days of November, with local manufacturers hit the hardest: they only account for 40% of the overall market. Peugeot is down 6%, Citroen down 15% and Renault down 21% to fall below Volkswagen at 3,430 sales vs. 3,570. However intermediary rankings such as this one are always to be taken with a grain of salt as they are heavily influenced by promotions and specific manufacturers policies about front or back-loading their sales during the month. Typically Volkswagen front-loads and Renault back-loads, and there is no way the German carmaker will stay above Renault by the time November comes to an end. An interesting state of affairs nevertheless.

Toyota Yaris France November 2014. Picture courtesy of largus.frThe locally-produced Toyota Yaris is among France’s 10 most popular nameplates.

In spite of an overall downward trend, Dacia is still up an insolent 30% on the same period last year to 2,020 sales, Toyota is up 3%, Nissan up 10%, Opel up 20% and BMW up 3% to make a rare appearance in the Top 10. Model-wise, the Peugeot 208 for once doesn’t lose ground on a year ago, leading the pack for now but with a very slim 11 unit-advantage over its big sis the Peugeot 308, up a fantastic 86% YOY. Leader last year, the Citroen C3 tumbles down 38% to #3, still ahead of the Renault Clio which outsells the VW Polo by just 22 units! Dacia places the Sandero (-1%) at #7 and the Duster (+165%) at #9 while the Toyota Yaris (+8%) makes a remarkable comeback inside the French Top 10 at #8.

Previous month: France October 2014: Now with the Top 300 models and All-brands

Previous weekly post: France 1-22 October 2014: Citroen C3 up to 2nd place

One year ago: France 1-11 November 2013: Citroen C3 on top

Full 1-12 November 2014 Top 10 models and brands Ranking Tables below.

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Categories: France