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All Hatch All the Time: We Drive Buick’s 2018 Regal Sportback, TourX, and GS

2018 Buick Regal TourX, 2018 Buick Regal Sportback, and 2018 Bui

The new 2018 Buick Regal lineup throws the conventional sedan body style out the window in favor of a trio of more compelling options: the Regal Sportback and the Regal GS, both hatchbacks, and the Regal TourX wagon. Even though these Regals continue to share much with the Europe-market Opel Insignia, these redesigned versions aim for new territory and push Buick a bit further upscale. We got a chance to wring out pre-production examples of each of these new Regals on a ride-and-handling test loop. Here are our first impressions from the brief seat time C/D had in each version.

2018 Buick Regal Sportback

Regal Sportback: Middle of the Road

Don’t be misled by the swoopy lines or the word Sport in its name, because the standard 2018 Regal is not an overtly sporting machine. Its front-wheel-drive chassis is shared with the Chevrolet Malibu (all-wheel drive is optional), and it doesn’t feel all that different from the 2.0T-equipped Malibu. If anything, the Regal is tuned to be a bit softer than the Chevy, with light, overboosted steering and a compliant ride that verges on floatiness over larger bumps. At least the brake pedal is firm and confidence-inspiring. The front-wheel-drive version we drove accelerated strongly, with the 2.0-liter turbo four providing plenty of midrange grunt and the nine-speed automatic transmission shifting quickly and smoothly (an eight-speed automatic is standard in all-wheel-drive models).

2018 Buick Regal TourX

Regal TourX: Practical and Placid

Predictably, the longer and heavier TourX wagon feels a bit more ponderous than the Regal Sportback. But with even fewer sporting pretensions, the TourX has a calm demeanor that is fitting for this wagon that is chasing crossover shoppers. It should be a pleasant road-trip machine, thanks to a quiet cabin and a nicely settled ride. The somewhat plain interior with plenty of ordinary-looking plastic trim won’t worry Audi or Mercedes-Benz designers, but the controls are well laid out, and the seats are comfortable. The TourX is also remarkably spacious and versatile, with a capacious rear seat and tons of cargo space. The 40/20/40 split-folding rear seatbacks also fold easily and create a completely flat load floor. Wagons FTW!

Regal GS: That’s More Like It

While the Sportback name might not be the best descriptor for the base Regal, the GS’s numerous performance tweaks live up to its promise on paper. The 3.6-liter V-6 is eager to rev and sounds throaty, while the nine-speed automatic is programmed intelligently and always seems to be in the right gear. Paddle shifters are a notable omission, but at least the transmission won’t shift on its own in manual mode. The steering is weighted much more heavily than in the Sportback and offers better on-center feel and sharper turn-in. The standard adaptive dampers help the GS feel considerably more buttoned down through bumpy corners. Outright grip from the all-season rubber could be better; disappointingly, Buick says it won’t offer summer tires as an option, but, then again, the Regal isn’t a track car by any means.

Although we’ve only just gotten a taste of these new Buicks, we’ll have a chance to spend more time with the 2018 Regal lineup before they go on sale. The Regal Sportback will arrive at dealerships first, going on sale this fall with a starting price of $25,915; the $29,995 TourX and the $39,995 GS will follow it by a few months.


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Even more smuggled marijuana found in new Ford Fusions from Mexico

Update: Ford Motor Company provided an official statement regarding the marijuana found in Ford Fusions. It is as follows: “We’re aware of the situation and are taking it very seriously. We are working with the FBI and Customs on an extensive investigation. We have confirmed that this is not happening at our plant or at our internal shipping yards.”

Just a couple of months ago, we told you about how marijuana was being smuggled into the US via the trunks of fresh-off-the-assembly-line Ford Fusions. According to authorities, over $1.4 million worth of weed was found in Fusions that went to Minnesota. Now the exact same thing has happened, but this time in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

According to CNN, car dealers in both states were discovering packages of drugs stuffed into the spare-tire wells of new Ford Fusions. The total came to $1 million. So far, it doesn’t seem that any affected cars have ended up in the hands of a customer. Just like with the last marijuana discovery, though, the Fusions were shipped by rail from the cars’ assembly point of Hermosillo, Mexico. Police suspect the drugs were supposed to be picked up before they reached dealers, according to CNN. As we mentioned last time marijuana surfaced in Fusions, if you just recently purchased one, you might want to take a peak in the trunk and make sure there really is a tire in the back and not a brown package.

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2019 Audi e-tron Quattro: Tesla’s Nemesis Spied in Production Form


Audi’s e-tron Quattro was first shown in concept form at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show. Now, more than a year before its U.S. launch, we get our first glimpse of the all-electric production car, which is making its rounds at Audi’s Ingolstadt home base.Caught with moderate camouflage, we can now see that the e-tron Quattro does not deviate all that far from the 2015 concept.

Audi e-tron (spy photo)

But we can also see that it will look better. The concept car’s chiseled front grille has made way for a cleaner and more stately face, and both the front and rear are adorned with futuristic LED lights. The crossover proportions remain close to the concept. The roof is somewhat coupe-like, but not too much—Audi wants to leave room for the e-tron Sportback, which will hit the market about one year after this car.

Audi e-tron (spy photo)

We hear that the interior will be close to the new A8 in concept and execution, and that’s a good thing. It means horizontal lines, multiple touchscreens, and an ultra-futuristic ambience. With the new A8, Audi seeks to establish a leadership position in autonomous-driving technology, and we expect the e-tron Quattro to further expand on the technology.

Audi e-tron (spy photo)

We will see the final product sometime in 2018, with a U.S. market launch late that year. It will be priced around $80,000, and it won’t be called the Q6 as was initially thought: it will be badged e-tron Quattro. The first versions will be fitted with one electric motor in the front and two in the rear, which, in the concept, produced a total output of 429 horsepower. The concept boasted a range of over 310 miles on the optimistic European cycle. We expect the production e-tron Quattro to stick close to those numbers. Down the road, there will be an entry-level model with one front and one rear motor, as well as a more-powerful version.

It will be interesting to see the e-tron Quattro battle with the upcoming, fully electric models by Mercedes-EQ and Jaguar. And, of course, the various offerings by Tesla—which will have to fight to retain a leading position in a market they served to create.


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Flames, plumes of smoke from fire at Salem auto wrecking yard near I-5

A fire erupted at GR Foreign Auto Wreckers on 4825 Ridge Drive NE around 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Salem Fire Department first received a report of the fire at 2:03 p.m., according to Chief Carl DeCarlo.

Roughly 22 Salem Fire officials responded to the scene.

There have been no reports of injury at this time, DeCarlo said, but one firefighter was being evaluated for heat exposure, according to Deputy Fire Marshal Laird Case.

Four engines and a ladder truck responded after GR workers reported the fire. They’d been using a torch to cut a part from a junked car when the vehicle ignited.

“They initially tried to extinguish it with an extinguisher they had present, but it got too big, too fast,” said Case. 

Photos: Fire in Salem

Residents of nearby houses were asked to leave the area while firefighters were working.

Evan Roth, who was at his brother’s property within eyesight of the junkyard, thought at first the fire was someone burning trash.

“People burn fires that are kind of questionable,” said Roth.

But after he started hearing frequent, small explosions and saw the black smoke billowing from GR, he realized it was something else.

“We were like ‘OK, that’s probably not just people screwing around,’” he said.

The fire was contained a little after 3 p.m., but Case said firefighters would be on the scene for most of the afternoon.

There are a number of downed power lines as a result of the fire.

© 2017 KGW-TV

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German government set up diesel summit with auto bosses

The German government has invited leading automakers to a meeting next month to discuss how to reduce diesel emissions.

Transport Ministry spokesman Sebastian Hille said Wednesday the CEOs of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche, Daimler, Ford’s German branch and Opel are invited for the Aug. 2 meeting, alongside several ministers and the governors of those German states which are auto industry centers or particularly affected by nitrogen oxide emissions.

Diesels have been under a cloud since Volkswagen admitted nearly two years ago of equipping vehicles with illegal software to pass emissions tests, but then exceeded limits in everyday driving. There have been calls for diesel bans in German cities to reduce excessive pollution levels. On Tuesday, Daimler said it will voluntarily recall 3 million Mercedes-Benz cars to improve their emissions performance.

Hille welcomed Daimler’s announcement and said it showed talks ahead of the August summit “are leading to significant movement.”

Daimler said it would tweak engine software to reduce diesel emissions, using what it has learned in developing a new line of diesel engines. It also said it would accelerate use of the newer engines across its model line.

CEO Dieter Zetsche said the move was designed to reassure customers because the public debate over diesel’s future was creating uncertainty. He said that “we are convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions.”

About half the cars sold in Germany are diesels and thousands of people are employed making them. Their lower emissions of carbon dioxide make them part of efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.

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NAFTA exit, border tax would hurt auto industry, study warns






President Donald Trump vowed Monday to boost U.S. manufacturing by cutting the $64 billion trade deficit with Mexico as he showcased products made in all 50 states — everything from a fire truck to a baseball bat.

As the Trump administration prepares to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, a new study from Boston Consulting Group warns that withdrawing from the treaty would hurt the automotive industry and fail to create new jobs in the U.S.

The study, commissioned by the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, found that car prices, vehicle sales, supply chain decisions, and industry employment could all be negatively affected by the proposals.

“A retreat from NAFTA would greatly impede the industry’s relatively smooth and cost-effective flow of goods across borders in North America and around the world,” said Xavier Mosquet, a Detroit-based senior partner at Boston Consulting.

More: Donald Trump administration outlines new NAFTA goals

According to Mosquet, leaving NAFTA would lead to the loss of about 25,000 to 50,000 jobs at U.S. auto suppliers.

Why? Because Mosquet says ending NAFTA would result in higher vehicle prices leading to a decline in car sales and an increase in prices and that would lead to decline in parts produced by auto suppliers with plants in the U.S.

The study estimated U.S. tariffs in a range from 20% to 35% would add $16 billion to $27 billion annually to costs at automakers and their suppliers. A 20% tariff would increase the production cost per vehicle by $650.

President Donald Trump, who campaigned on the slogan “America First,” has said he wants to bring back automotive jobs that have moved to Mexico. Earlier this week, the Trump administration released its negotiating priorities for talks with Mexico and Canada to negotiate a new agreement.

The Trump administration would like to complete a renegotiation of NAFTA by the end of this year, before elections take place in Mexico next year.

The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association and several other auto industry groups say they welcome efforts to update and modernize NAFTA but also say the industry would be harmed if the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the trade agreement.

NAFTA, which went into effect in 1994, has been blamed for U.S. manufacturing job losses. Labor unions, including the UAW, have welcomed the opportunity to renegotiate it.

More: Unions urge worker-friendly NAFTA re-do; industry urges ‘do no harm’

But Mosquet argues that the trade agreement also has made the U.S. auto industry more efficient, has paved the way for sales growth and lower vehicle prices. While most new plants built by automakers in the past 10 years have been in Mexico, Mosquet argues that has given automakers an option for low-cost production that helps North America — as a region — compete with Europe and Asia.

The study from Boston Consulting also warns against the idea of a border adjustment tax. Trump hasn’t specifically endorsed the border adjustment tax but earlier this year talked about imposing a 15% or even a 30% tariff on goods from Mexico. The idea is to create a powerful incentive for automakers to bring jobs back to America that have been moved to Mexico.

The Boston Consulting study concluded that a 15% border tax would result in a net tax increase of $22 billion annually for automakers and their suppliers, and a cost increase of $1,000 per vehicle.

The auto industry has forcefully lobbied against a border adjustment tax and the idea appears to have taken a back seat to other priorities in Washington. However, Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, said the idea could resurface in tax reform legislation or in the budget later this year.


Mosquet said a border adjustment tax is unlikely to lead to “re-shoring,” or a decision by automakers and suppliers to build new auto plants in the U.S.

That’s partly because the auto industry, after seven consecutive years of U.S. sales growth, has hit a plateau and automakers and suppliers are unlikely to spend millions of dollars to build new plants right now. 

“Today, we have enough capacity probably for the next 10 years,” Mosquet said. “Nobody is looking to add plants, because they know they will not need them.”

Contact Brent Snavely: 313-222-6512 or Follow him on Twitter @BrentSnavely.

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First Drive: 2018 Porsche Panamera Turbo Sport Turismo

COWICHAN, British Columbia – Aside from the occasional cringe-worthy swath of denuded forest, the interior of Vancouver Island is a scantily populated oasis of towering pine, rugged stone, and narrow meandering roads perfect for a leisurely Sunday drive. They’re less than ideal, however, for rather large German luxury cars.  The patchwork surface is cracked and pockmarked and the occasional wince-inducing thump was inevitable when 21-inch low-profile sport Michelin meets the bottom of a pothole.  To its credit, the active air suspension system on the Porsche we’re driving does an admirable job of absorbing a surface better suited to the camper vans and 4x4s we pass along the route.

Cruising through the small towns, we receive several thumbs up from the locals  – but surprisingly, didn’t rate so much as a second glance from the other Porsche drivers we encountered. Curious, because this car, the new Panamera Sport Turismo, was a sensation at its Paris Motor Show debut as a concept five years ago. 

The Panamera certainly has its detractors – and the criticism isn’t entirely unfounded. While most of it came from hard-core sports car enthusiasts appalled at the soiling of their beloved brand by a heavy four-door with a wrongly situated power plant, the original car’s rather ungainly design earned its fair share of barbs from public and motoring press alike.

The Sport Turismo’s estate wagon configuration completely alleviates the sedan’s biggest flaw – the awkward roofline.  The most elegant of the Panamera lineup, the Sport Turismo is identical to the sedan from the B-pillar forward. But instead of ending in a curvaceous bulge, the roofline continues to a  tidy squared-off tailgate with a jaunty three-position spoiler, which automatically adjusts depending on downforce requirements.

From the driver’s seat, the cabin is indistinguishable from the standard Panamera, but the rear has been reworked to make what Porsche calls “4+1” seating.  Fortunately, they hadn’t the audacity to call it a five-seater, as  they basically just replaced the bisecting rear console with a narrow seating space fit only for a child or very small adult.  More importantly, the raised roofline and wider hatch with lower loading height creates a more useable luggage compartment. At 520 litres (425L for the E-Hybrid), the Sport Turismo’s trunk space is 20L larger than the sedan. Drop the 40/20/40 rear seats and that increases to 1,390L (1,295 for the hybrid).  Length and wheelbase remain the same as the sedan, but curb weight increases by 30 kilograms.

Like the sedan, the Turismo’s cockpit is bisected, private jet-like, by a bank of switchgear. However, the swath of hard buttons has been replaced by a sleek, modern touch surface. A clean, uncluttered design, like most of its ilk, this sort of interface can be overly sensitive, and marks easily with fingerprints. The familiar aluminum gear selector has been replaced with one that’s a little too similar in both style and function to BMW’s universally loathed auto shifter. It’s confusing to operate and we spend far too much time at each waypoint trying to figure out how to put it in park.  

The “Advanced Cockpit” features two 7-inch displays , and a 12.3″ screen embedded in the centre console. On-board safety features include Night Vision, and “InnoDrive” adaptive cruise control using navigation data to calculate optimum speed, braking and shift patterns three kilometres in advance.

First Drive: 2017 Porsche PanameraFirst Drive: 2017 Porsche Panamera

As with the sedan, there are four models available to us (European markets also receive a diesel): Panamera 4 Sport Tursimo with 330 hp Turbo V6,  4 E-Hybrid Sport deriving a combined 462hp from an electric motor and biturbo V6, 4S Sport Sport Turismo with 440 hp biturbo V6 and the Turbo Sport Turismo with a biturbo V8 that delivers 550 hp.  All come with the eight-speed PDK transmission and standard four-wheel drive.

Entry Sport Turismo comes standard with steel suspension, and upper models get Porsche Active Suspension Management System (PASM) which continuously adapts each individual wheel according to road surface. A three-chamber air spring provides a range of flexibility depending on which drive mode is selected – choose “Sport Plus” and it’s nearly track-day firm.  The air suspension can also raise the chassis 20 mm for clearance, or lower it at speed 28 mm in front and 20mm behind to improve dynamics. Rear axle steering adds 2.8 degrees of angle adjustment to the rear wheels: turning opposite to the fronts at low speeds to reduce turning circles, and in the same direction as the front wheels over 50km/hr to enhance stability and cornering ability.  Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control adds a an electronically controlled rear differential lock  for more traction while accelerating out of turns, and brake-generated torque vectoring (PTV)for more agile turn in.

Behind the wheel of the Turbo Sport Turismo, it’s easy to forget you’re driving a 2,035 kg station wagon. With 550hp and 536 lb ft of torque, it’s a silken rocket ship. The PDK transmission responds in milliseconds, although hammering the throttle can induce a moment’s hesitation in downshift. Supple and pliant in normal mode, the Turbo Sport Turismo drives like a much smaller car. Switch to Sport Mode and the ride becomes a bit more punishing, but that’s mostly due to the enormous wheels and low profile tires on a really questionable road surface.  Steering is linear and communicative and the wheel has just the right heft. Push the Turbo Sport hard, and it does an admirable job emulating a performance car, but it’s happiest as a grand tourer with stonking great gobs of power on reserve.

The Panamera Sport Turismo will arrive in Canada late 2017.  Pricing starts at $109,700 for the Panamera 4 Sport Turismo, $118,600 for the 4 E-Hybrid Sport Turismo, $124,500 for the 4S Sport Turismo, and $175,600 for the Turbo Sport Turismo. 

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BizVibe Examines the Latest Developments and Growth …

automotive industry
and its major segments, such as the auto
parts sector and electric car sector have experienced some major changes
over the recent years. As the production of conventional vehicles enjoys
steady growth in some countries, other factors, including E-commerce
auto parts sales and the booming electric car market, may bring new
opportunities and challenges to the global market. Details about these
latest developments and global growth opportunities in the auto industry
are some of this week’s top stories on BizVibe. BizVibe is the world’s
smartest B2B marketplace
, which allows its users to discover
high quality leads, contact prospects, and source quotes in real time.

UK Automotive Production Reaches 17-year High

A recent industry report shows that UK’s
automotive production
reached 1.73 million units in 2016,
marking the country’s highest auto production level since 1999.
Passenger cars accounted for 95% of total automotive production in the
UK and 96% of UK vehicle exports in 2016. Commercial Vehicle (CV) output
remained steady in 2016, with an output of 94,000 vans, trucks, buses
and coaches, a smaller 0.6% decline.

Despite the uncertainties caused by Brexit, the overall picture for UK
automotive production remains positive with consistently growing
automotive production and auto sales over the recent years. The UK’s
automotive industry is expected to grow
faster in the next five years than in the past five decades
, as
auto production in 2017 is predicted to reach 1.9 million units.

Connect with over 8,700
automobile companies in UK
listed on BizVibe.

Amazon Expands Its Auto Parts Business in the US

Following Amazon’s
recent entry to the auto parts industry
, the American online
retail giant has made several strong deals with some of the largest
suppliers of US auto parts. Amazon’s current selection of parts is
already selling for less than the biggest brick-and-mortar retailers
offer them for; on average, the difference is 23% less. Amazon will also
be offering same-day delivery of auto parts to 40 major US cities.

BizVibe predicts that lowered prices combined with the convenience of
delivery services that Amazon offers for its auto parts sales could put
a lot of US auto parts retailers in danger, as consumers will have
greater access to auto parts and will benefit from reduced prices and
speedy delivery, while retailers may have to struggle to attract new
customers and make sales from their physical stores.

Connect with over 54,000
auto parts companies around the
world listed on BizVibe.

How Is Booming Electric Car Market Threatening
Oil Companies?

A recent industry report suggests that the
ongoing success of the electric car market may reduce oil demand

by as much as eight million barrels a day, about 8% of the expected
global total. Oil companies around the world are beginning to treat
electric vehicles as a serious threat to their profits as awareness of
this potential outcome grows.

Industry experts point out that the growing popularity and availability
of electric cars is pushing uncertainty into the futures of oil
companies around the globe. The influence and revenue of oil companies
could ultimately suffer as a result of electric vehicle adoption, as
oversupply will likely lead to a reduction in oil prices.

Connect with over 110,000
automobiles companies around the
world listed on BizVibe

In addition to auto companies, BizVibe is home to more than seven
million companies across 700+ industries
Using BizVibe’s platform, users can generate leads, shortlist prospects,
network with businesses from around the world, and trade
seamlessly. The BizVibe platform allows you to discover the highest
quality leads and make meaningful connections with companies of
interest, all in real-time. Claim
your company profile for free 
and let BizVibe connect you
with potential business partners. To make things as simple as possible, use
the BizVibe Chatbot to create new business opportunities

About BizVibe

The single-minded focus of BizVibe’s platform is to make networking
easier. Over the years, we’ve searched far and wide to figure out how
businesses connect and enable trade. That first interaction is usually
fraught with the uncertainty of finding a potential partner vs. a
potential nightmare. With this in mind, we’ve designed a robust set of
tools to help companies generate leads, shortlist prospects, network
with businesses from around the world and trade seamlessly.

BizVibe is headquartered in Toronto, and has offices in London,
Bangalore and Beijing. For more information on the BizVibe network,
please contact

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Charity launches automotive industry health survey

A CHARITY that provides support to people in the automotive industry has launched a health survey for current and past workers.

The not-for-profit organisation – which partners with Car Dealer each year for the madcap rally Bangers4Ben – is seeking insights from industry people to help shape future services and meet the needs of those in the automotive sector. It says the feedback will also ensure that its health and well-being services stay relevant to those in the industry which, in turn, will help more people deal with life’s challenges in the future.

Zara Ross

Zara Ross

By doing so, Ben says it can reduce absences, improve productivity and raise morale. The survey is confidential and anonymous.

Zara Ross, the chief executive of Ben, said: ‘If you work or have worked in the automotive industry, then we would love to hear from you. Thank you in advance for taking part in our survey.

‘Your valuable feedback will enable us to continue offering relevant health and well-being services for the industry. With your support, you’re enabling us to support even more people.’

The survey, which Ben says takes just five minutes, can be accessed here.

MORE: All aboard The Alpine Special for this year’s Bangers4Ben!

MORE: Last year’s Bangers4Ben winners revealed

MORE: B4B16 pictures now available

On Audi discovers you can’t compare women to used cars without a backlash

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GST: How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18, Auto News, ET Auto

Domestic sales in the month of June 2017 were bogged down by liquidation of stocks at the dealers end and OEMs withholding inventory due to the upcoming GST regime from 1 July.

Q1 of 2017-18 (April-June), saw the green shoots of recovery in the passenger vehicle market led by utility vehicles while the two- wheeler segment piggy-backed on growing urbanization in cities and towns that revved up demand for scooters.

Discounts and pre-buying especially in commercial vehicles and motorcycles due to the enforcement of BS-IV emission norms from 1 April 2017, led to overall domestic auto sales being a mixed bag marked by peaks and troughs in Q1.

In the passenger vehicle segment, Honda Cars India led the growth march recording the highest sales growth at 21.09 percent followed by market leader Maruti Suzuki India with an uptick of 13.97 percent. In market share, Maruti Suzuki was a distant first with a huge chunk of the pie (50.4 percent) with Honda Cars India garnering a nominal 5.29 percent share of the market.

Passenger vehicle Market Share in Q1 FY2018

Passenger vehicle Market Share in Q1 FY2018
Passenger vehicle Market Share in Q1 FY2018

The steepest decline in growth rate was witnessed by Toyota Kirloskar Motor (TKM) that was in the red with a dip of 25.52 percent and was trailed by Renault India with sales plummeting by 23.25 percent. All other carmakers were either up or down in single digits.

A look at Q1 of 2016-17, reveals Honda Cars India nose-diving 28.35 percent while Maruti Suzuki grew in single digits of 5.45 percent. TKM grew marginally at 1.2 percent while Renault India was up 173.04 percent on the back of its Kwid hatchback. The PV segment was then just emerging from the shadows of the slowdown in the market.

Incidentally, Maruti Suzuki has upped its market share to 50.48 percent in Q1FY18 from 46.90 percent in Q1FY17 on the back of growth in its utility vehicles especially the Vitara Brezza and the Ertiga.

All its segments have grown during this period including the Mini that saw a drop in June. Only the Omni and Eeco vans have tripped marginally from 36558 units in Q1FY17 to 35,739 units in the same period in FY18.

Edelweiss Securities maintains that a few players who have established a decisive lead are set to further fortify their position over the next 3-5 years. In PVs Maruti Suzuki’s dominance will rise further with its gap with peers widening.

Passenger vehicle Market Share in Q1 FY2017

Passenger Vehicle Market share in FY17
Passenger Vehicle Market share in FY17

While the company has done a catch up on the premiumisation band wagon, competition has gone back to the drawing board to recalibrate the strategy (including exiting domestic market). It has not only increased market share (900bps in 5 years), but is also expanding its dominance across other key areas—product launch cycle (2-3 launches every year), distribution reach (trebling on a high base), margin and free cash flow cycle.

TKM, MM, VW India, Renault and Ford India have been the key losers of market share in the first quarter of FY18.

TKM was down one slot in the pecking order in Q1FY18 taking it to sixth rank. It was replaced by Honda Cars India at fifth position, up two rung’s from seventh position in Q1 of last year.

Sales of the Toyota Liva hatchback have been slipping while TKMs frontrunner Etios sedan has almost halved its sales in FY18 to 3921 units from 7234 units during the same period in FY17. Sales of another popular model the Innova have plunged to 13,300 units in FY18 from 19699 units in Q1 last fiscal.

Only the Fortuner continues to command good numbers riding on the uptick in the UV segment and customers changing preference for SUVs. It has more than doubled its sales from 1999 units to 4543 units in the current FY18.

Renault India in turn has been nudged down one slot to seventh rank by TKM. Its Kwid sales are down to 20,385 units in Q1FY18 from 24,854 units in the same quarter last fiscal. The Pulse sold just 51 units while the Duster and Dacia Duster were also on the decline in FY18. Clearly the buyers penchant for new models is visible.

Almost all Ford vehicles faced a decline in sales during Q1FY18 but the carmaker has been performing well in export markets where it has even overtaken traditional passenger vehicle exporter, Hyundai Motor India.

Similarly German carmaker VW India has fared better in exports whereas MMs Verito sold just 28 units, and its popular Scorpio, Xylo, Bolero and HT were down to 22,551 units in FY18 from 23321 units in the same quarter last fiscal in the local market. Recently, the SUV maker discontinued its automatic variant of the Scorpio that might have taken the sheen off Scorpio numbers.

Early bird catches the worm

In two-wheelers it is a case of the early bird catches the worm. The ability to carve a new category is the sole success mantra, and once a player achieves leadership, it’s difficult to dislodge him. At the current juncture, two categories are set to drive industry growth – scooters and above250cc motorcycles.

The key drivers are shift in preference, lower penetration levels and emergence of women as key demand influencers.

HMSI has garnered a market share of 57 percent up by 900bps in the past 5 years in scooters improving its margin and is now in striking distance of industry leader Hero MotoCorp both in terms of margins and market share, maintains Edelweiss Securities.

Two Wheelers Market Share in Q1 FY2018
How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18

In the two-wheeler market, all OEMs have slid in terms of growth rates in Q1FY18 compared to the same quarter last year except for Suzuki Motorcycle India and Piaggio Vehicles. Suzuki for instance, has catapulted from a negative 9.3 percent growth to 50.71 percent this fiscal.

Piaggio on the other hand has improved its performance from 4.65 percent in Q1 last fiscal to a phenomenal 90.97 percent in Q1FY18.

Suzuki’s Gixxer and Access 125 models are driving the numbers for Suzuki that has been witnessing a robust growth in the last few months. For example during Q1 FY18, Suzuki’s sales in Access, Lets and Swish scooters have garnered sales of 89323 units in Q1FY18 compared to 56424 units in Q1FY17. Its Gixxer model was up at 16799 units from 12072 units in Q1 last fiscal.

Two Wheelers Market Share in Q1 FY2017
How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18

Piaggio’s Vespa and Aprilia SR 150 scooters have mustered the numbers growing on a low base.

The steepest decline in growth rate is experienced by Bajaj Auto that is down by 22.29 percent from an uptick of 12.98 percent in Q1FY17. The biggest gainer in market share is Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India that is up from 27.24 percent in Q1FY17 to 30.19 percent in the same period in FY18.

Royal Enfield and Honda Motorcycle and Scooter India are riding a multi-year demand up-cycle in above 250cc motorcycles and scooters owing to their first-mover advantage.

Commercial vehicles face a washout

Meanwhile, the commercial vehicle segment has seen a complete wash out with all the key players facing double digit declines in domestic sales except for MM and Isuzu Motors.

Edelweiss Securities believes that the traditional auto sector valuation framework is undergoing a change, reflecting business dynamics (growth and cash flows), individual company domination and prospects, and drawing parallels with consumers facing businesses across sectors from banking to commodities.

It believes that Ashok Leyland may dethrone market leader Tata Motors in MHCVs going forward.

​ Commerical Vehicle Market Share in Q1 FY2018
How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18

However in Q1FY18 Tata Motors has upped its market share to 30.8 percent from 8.14 percent in the same quarter in FY17.

MM’s share is also up to 30.5 percent from 23.7 percent last fiscal while Maruti Suzuki has just opened its innings with its Super Carry LCV and has chipped in with a market share of 0.68 percent in FY18.

Commerical Vehicle Market Share in Q1 FY2017
How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18

Overall the domestic commercial vehicle industry ended Q1 FY 2018 with a contraction of 9 percent in unit sales primarily led by a sharp decline in sales of medium and heavy commercial vehicles (MHCV) – trucks and buses.

Rating agency ICRA maintains the contraction in sales are the result of a combination of factors including pre-buying (in Q4 FY 2017 ahead of the BS-IV roll-out), deferment by fleet operators before GST roll-out and supply disruptions because of limited availability of components for BS-IV vehicles.

According to Subrata Ray, Senior Group Vice President, ICRA,” Despite weak performance in the first quarter, the industry will find its momentum back aided by increased thrust on infrastructure and rural sectors in the recent budget, potential implementation of fleet modernization or scrappage program and higher demand from consumption-driven sectors, especially for LCVs and intermediate commercial vehicles. Given these considerations, the domestic CV industry is likely to register a growth of 6-8 percent in FY 2018.”

Another segment in the red is three-wheelers with Atul Auto alone bucking the trend by turning positive at 11.54 percent compared to a downslide of 12.1 percent in Q1 FY17. Atul Auto manufactures auto rickshaws, pick-up vans and chassis of passenger vehicles.

Scooters India has de-grown 97.51 percent that is the highest in the segment. Understandably, as it is currently in the midst of disinvestment.

Three Wheelers Market Share in Q1 FY2018
How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18

One of the key players Bajaj Auto has lost market share from 53.9 percent in Q1FY17 to 49.8 percent in Q1FY18. Piaggio Vehicles, Atul Auto and MM are the major gainers with a growth of 28.4 percent, 5.2 percent and 8.6 percent.

Three Wheelers Market Share in Q1 FY2017
How automotive industry fared in Q1 FY’18

The Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers Association of India has indicated that with the economy moving on the growth path, an improvement is visible in the fortunes of the automotive industry in FY18.

Inflation is lowering that will boost market demand. CPI inflation is pegged at 4 percent during FY 2018 against 4.5 percent for 2017 as food inflation will remain in control. Hence, buyers will have money to spend on vehicle purchase.

In addition, major commodity prices are on the downward path, vehicle finance rates are also stabilizing after being on the upward trajectory for a long time.

After the turmoil that had gripped the vehicle industry on the eve of GST, prices across the spectrum have started dropping that is an indication of sales picking up soon.

Further, the rupee has strengthened against the US dollar removing currency volatility in the overseas markets. This will also give a leg up to exports.

Though manufacturing and power sectors are growing, mining is still to take off and is affecting sales of MHCVs and tractor trailers used in this business.

Exports throw a surprise

Now for a closer look at exports during Q1FY18 that throws up a surprise. Barring commercial vehicles that were in the red at 34.02 percent, PVs were surging ahead at 13.79 percent, three-wheelers at 24.67 percent and two-wheelers at 14.75 percent taking overall exports to 13.74 percent.

In PVs, Ford India was the first in the pecking order overtaking leading car exporter Hyundai Motor India with volumes of 48971 units, up 54.37 percent. In the same period last fiscal the South Korean carmaker had maintained its supremacy with volumes of 39781 units. These carmakers were followed by VW India up 20.24 percent, Maruti Suzuki growing 0.27 percent and General Motors India up 111.61 percent in FY18.

For Ford the new Figo that is sold as the Ka+ in the UK and Europe is stoking the numbers. GM India has also seen a surge in its exports, particularly of the left-hand-drive Chevrolet Beat to many countries including Mexico, Chile, Peru, Central American and Caribbean Countries, Uruguay and Argentina. Its domestic business has already downed its shutters.

For the export biggies, Hyundai Motor India and Maruti Suzuki India manufacturing capacity constraints have been the primary reason in reduced export volumes as their priority was the domestic market.

MSIL had seen many new launches of which the Baleno has been a key driver of exports. For Hyundai, the Creta has been a large volume driver along with the Grand i10.

In CVs, Tata Motors is placed highest in the pecking order marginally increasing its market share to 53.2 percent in FY18 from 50.0 percent in Q1FY17.

It is followed by Ashok Leyland that moves two rungs up to the second position from the fourth rank in Q1FY17.

Barring commercial vehicles that were in the red at 34.02 percent, PVs were surging ahead at 13.79 percent, three-wheelers at 24.67 percent and two-wheelers at 14.75 percent taking overall exports to 13.74 percent.

Ashok Leyland’s exports turned positive with a 47.21 percent YoY growth in Q1FY18 from the earlier negative 34.16 percent.

Next in line is MM that is down in both volumes (2741 units) and growth rate (-65.81 percent) slipping to the third position from the number 2 slot in Q1FY17.

In two-wheelers, Bajaj Auto has held its pole position with its export growth turning positive at 7.88 percent during the period under review from a decline of 16.89 percent in Q1FY17.

So has TVS Motor Company with a growth of 23.72 percent from a decline of 3.07 percent in Q1FY17. Third in the ranking is HMSI that has upped its volumes (81862 units) and growth sizeably (44.25 percent).

In the three-wheeler segment the front runners are Bajaj Auto, TVS Motor Company and Piaggio Vehicles respectively though Bajaj maintains a clear and distant lead compared to the others with volumes of 60065 units and a positive growth of 30.11 percent up from a downslide of 46.98 percent in Q1FY17.

Only Force Motors sees a decline of 19.15 percent with export volumes of 532 units.

But with the economic forecasters all pointing to good times ahead as the economy bumps along, days are all set to brighten further in the days to come.

(Data sourced from SIAM)

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