‘Hail, Yes!’ Gotham greets Nissan’s new NV200 taxi cabs

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Nissan NV200 Taxi

 BY GERRY MILES

 One time, after walking through the NY Auto Show’s expansive Javits Center, I hailed a cab to the hotel uptown. A well-worn Ford Crown Victoria with the requisite thick plexiglass between the seats, the large electronic meter, vinyl bench seats and a stale smell of something spilled that was never wiped nor cleaned, the driver noted there could be 20,000 to 30,000 yellow cars canvassing the city that never sleeps.

While all are different – the first gen Honda Odysseys were popular for their room and small footprint – a new livery vehicle was pressed into service this week when Nissan’s NV200T rang up its fire fare at JFK airport.

Eight Nissan dealerships in the New York City region now have the NV200T available for purchase by New York City medallion owners. These major milestones mark the next phase in Nissan’s commitment to deliver the most innovative, custom-designed taxi experience ever to the more than 600,000 people who ride in New York City taxicabs every day.

“The Nissan NV200T demonstrates the company’s leadership in advancing global mobility through modern vehicle design and technology,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president for Nissan Motor Company. “From its fuel-efficient powertrain, to its space-saving design and passenger-centric interior, the Nissan taxi is a prime example of innovative spirit that goes into all Nissan vehicles. We are excited to see the NV200T now carrying passengers around Manhattan, and look forward to bringing the same NV200T experience to drivers and passengers in new markets outside New York.”

Designed From the Inside Out

Designed with input from passengers and drivers alike, one of the Nissan’s most revealing elements is the transparent roof that gives riders stunning views of city sights and skyscrapers. Other new features include:
• Ample room for four passengers and their luggage, offering substantial improvements over current and recently-unveiled taxi models;
• Sliding doors with entry step and grab handles, providing easy entry and exit;
• Opening side windows;
• Independently controlled rear air conditioning;
• Active Carbon-lined headliner to help neutralize interior odors;
• Overhead reading lights for passengers and floor lighting to help locate belongings;
• Mobile charging ports for passengers, including a 12-volt electrical outlet and two USB ports;
• Breathable, antimicrobial, environment-friendly, durable and easy-to-clean seat fabric, simulating the look and feel of leather; and
• Flat “no hump” passenger floor area for more comfortable ride.

Other notable NV200T features focus on driver comfort, customer satisfaction and the environment:

  • Proven 2.0L 4-cylinder powertrain, engineered to enhance the emission performance and fuel efficiency of the taxi fleet;
  • 150,000 mile powertrain warranty;
  • A low-annoyance horn with exterior lights that indicate when the vehicle is honking, so the horn is used less frequently;
  • A 6-way adjustable driver’s seat featuring both recline and lumbar adjustments, even with a partition installed;
  • Unique driver’s seat material and stitching to promote improved airflow;
  • USB auxiliary audio input and charge port for driver;
  • Standard navigation system with integrated rearview backup monitor;
  • Hearing Loop System for the hearing impaired;
  • Driver and passenger intercom system; and
  • All necessary wiring and installation provisions.

In what may be an historical nod to another Nissan van that had read sliding doors, the Axxis years ago, the NV200T features dual sliders but with entry steps and grab handles to provide easy entry and exit. Sliding doors and door-opening warning lamps also lessen the risk of pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists getting struck when doors open unexpectedly. Thus, the bicycle messenger in NYC may have a chance of not getting side swiped by an opened door and exiting passenger.

The NV200T was the first New York taxi to be crash-tested with taxi equipment installed, including the partition. It features front and rear-seat occupant curtain airbags, and seat-mounted airbags for the front row along with standard traction control and Vehicle Dynamic Control.

Manufactured at the company’s assembly plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico and rigorously tested at its Arizona proving grounds, the Nissan NV200T has logged more than 155,000 miles for its Broadway debut.

The N200T carries an MSRP of $29,700.

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Nissan NV200 Taxi

Changing the Taxi Worldwide

Nissan’s new taxi design will make its way into international cities such as:  London, Paris, Tokyo and Bangkok, to explore how the company can support delivery of custom taxi solutions – whether gasoline, hybrid, electric, handicap accessible or any other desired configuration.

INFOGRAPHIC: Nissan NV200T

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Tesla S sells well in 8 of the top 25 zip codes: Edmunds.com

Tesla S

Tesla S

BY GERRY MILES

It may well be the new “must have” car for those who must have and can have it all in 8 of America’s 25 toniest zip codes, according to Edmunds.com, out-selling its competitors.

Edmunds’ analysis is based upon new car registration data from Polk, showing the 8 area codes that sell the most are in California. Not surprisingly, the town next to Tesla’s Palo Alta HQ, Atherton, shows 15.4 percent of all new cars are the Model S. Palo Alto headquarters, is the wealthiest zip code in America, with a median home price of $6,665,000.

While having the must have and early adopter exclusive car is nice, Jessica Caldwell says the data provides a bit of why it appeals to buyers.

“It’s a classic pattern for any retail product, including cars: the wealthy and influential buyers set a trend, and the mainstream aspires to follow,” says Edmunds.com Sr. Analyst Jessica Caldwell. “As Tesla increases the number of models and improves its price points, it could find itself in demand by more than just those in these wealthy enclaves. After all, luxury car companies typically find the most volume in their entry-level vehicles.”

In May, Tesla CEO Elon Musk shared that he hopes to offer a vehicle to car shoppers for under $40,000 within the next four years.

California’s sunny skies may also make it appealing, but nationally the Model S market share sits at just 0.1 percent.  Edmunds.com’s analysis found that Tesla’s market share exceeds 1.0 percent in only one of the non-California zip codes ranked in the top 25 by Forbes (#19 Water Mill, NY with 1.2% of all new car registrations in 2013, through August). The Model S national market share sits at just 0.1 percent.

Jessica Caldwell (@jessrcaldwell) offers more insight into Tesla’s class of affluent buyers in Edmunds.com’s Industry Center at http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/analysis/drive-by-numbers-tesla-model-s-is-the-vehicle-of-choice-in-many-of-americas-wealthiest-zip-codes.html.

Horse of a different color paints Mustangs in new lights and darks

Mustang_Colors_IG

BY GERRY MILES

The Horse of a Different Color was a restaurant gone by in Portsmouth, NH that was notable for many things, chief among them was their sponsorship of a 10-mile run each summer. That was the longest distance run found back then during the running boom before you had 5k (3.1-mile) races almost every weekend, the holidays with turkey trots and jingle bell jaunts and the like.

It’s also my local tie-in to the changing color pallets of the Ford Mustang over 50 years. I wanted to have a local tie-in and refused to push you, dear reader, to run your eyeballs over an 8th grade dance them and “Color My World” though that slow dance anthem to youth, dreams and your own views of togetherness may run through your head for a bit.

Unlike another top Ford seller that only came in black, the pony’s paint has shifted from green and blue in the 1960s to today’s top black and red.

Red has been consistently popular throughout Mustang’s history and is the top seller overall, adorning 21 percent of all Mustangs.

The past 50 years of Mustang have brought eye-catching, special-edition colors like Mystichrome, Playboy Pink and Gotta Have It Green (a polarizing paint to be sure).

One of my favorite paint jobs came on 2004 Cobras first with a water-based paint “Mystichrome” that seemed to change colors and hues in different sunlight, giving off possibly two or three colors at once.

Today’s top color for Mustang is black — the polar opposite of the country’s top selling white. Just 10 percent of Mustangs today are white.

Only 1.5 percent of customers between 1967 and 1973 went for black Mustangs according to historical production data provided by Marti Auto Works, the licensed supplier of Ford Motor Company production records.

Red was found on some 21 percent of all Mustangs ever sold. One of the most traditional colors – it owned just over 10 percent of total Mustangs sold in 1967 – red Mustangs account for approximately 22 percent of all Mustang sales over the last decade.

1966 Ford Mustang GT fastback blue

1966 Ford Mustang GT fastback blue

Blue has made a comeback recently, after dominating the early years of Mustang, reaching a peak of 30 percent of all cars in 1968 when six different shades were offered. Crazy colors such as Grabber Blue and Kona Blue have captured the corneas of 23 percent of sales in recent years.

Early favorites green, yellow and brown faded – pun intended – in the 21st century. Green and yellow were more popular on limited edition Mustangs like the Bullitt and Boss 302. The last brown Mustangs were built in 1989.

1967 Pinky Ford Mustang

1967 Pinky Ford Mustang

Another crazy color customization was realized in 1967 with a Mustang painted in Playboy Pink.

“Our Mustang owners are passionate about their cars, and the exterior paint color they choose invokes an emotional response to the vehicle,” said Melanie Banker, Ford Mustang marketing manager. “Mustang owners buy a vehicle in School Bus Yellow or Grabber Blue because it reflects what they want their Mustang to say to the world about them.”

The Yellow Mustang Registry is dedicated to the owners and enthusiasts of yellow Mustangs. Founded in 2001, the registry has more than 8,932 members and 8,984 registered vehicles worldwide, and has hosted more than 60 events since its founding. The yellow Mustangs in the registry range from early Springtime Yellow (1965-66), to Zinc Yellow, introduced in 2000.

Similarly, AllRedMustangs.com devoted to “Ford Mustangs 1964-present – as long as it’s red,” has more than 1,300 members across 14 countries.

1979 Ford Mustang Cobra orange

1979 Ford Mustang Cobra orange

Toyota trucks tow SAE line

2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum

2014 Toyota Tundra Platinum

BY GERRY MILES

There aren’t many that intrinsicly know how much they can tow behind their truck without referring to their owner’s manual.

Toyota, however, is the only automaker to adopt the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) towing standard, known as J2807, for its trucks and SUVs, beginning with the 2014 Toyota Tundra as the only full-sized truck to adopt the standard. Toyota has been in compliance with J2807 since 2011.

The  J2807 standard establishes a single, repeatable test curriculum to determine real-world tow ratings for body-on-frame vehicles. Prior to the standard, manufacturers had devised their own tests and published their ratings without a third-party guideline.

“Toyota owners look to us to develop vehicles that meet the highest safety standards, and our voluntary adoption of J2807 helps us deliver on that promise,” said Mike Sweers, chief engineer of the Toyota Tundra and Tacoma. “Tundra owners can tow confidently knowing that the published tow rating has been verified by the industry’s foremost engineering authority.  With Tundra, what you see is what you get.”

Toyota has certifications for its entire towing-equipped lineup, including every Toyota pick-up truck, SUV, and minivan. SAE’s J2807 certification includes a comprehensive test of the vehicle’s engine, transmission, cooling system, axles and structural rigidity to handle a rated load so customers will know that rated Toyota vehicles have survived the industry’s harshest test methods.

The Toyota Tundra is assembled exclusively in San Antonio and is the only half-ton full-size pickup to hail from the state of Texas. Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX) employs 2,900 Texans, with on-site suppliers providing an additional 2,800 American jobs.

2014 Toyota Tundra SR5

2014 Toyota Tundra SR5

BMW intros 2014 2 Series Coupe line

BMW2

BY GERRY MILES

This is sure to be a treat for Halloween with BMW’s introducing a new model series:  the all-new BMW 2 Series Coupe.

The 2 Series will arrive in the first quarter of 2014 as the 228i and the M235i.

The BMW M235i, the first M Performance Automobile offered in the US, includes an impressive list of performance enhancing features, will make its World Debut at the Detroit Auto Show (ok, the North American International Auto Show) in January, 2014.

BMW 2 Series Coupe M Sport

BMW 2 Series Coupe M Sport

The 2 Series Coupe will be offered at a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price of $33,025 for the 228i and $44,025 for the M235i, including $925 destination and handling.

  • BMW M235i Coupe: Six-cylinder in-line gasoline engine with M Performance TwinPower Turbo technology (twin-scroll turbocharger, High Precision Direct Injection, Valvetronic variable valve timing, Double-Vanos).
    – Capacity: 2,979 cc
    – Output: 322 hp at 5,800 – 6,000 rpm, max. torque 332 lb-ft at 1,300 – 4,500 rpm.
    Acceleration [0 – 60 mph]: 4.8 seconds with 8-speed sport automatic transmission
    – Top speed: 250 km/h / 155 mph.
    – Preliminary EPA Mileage Estimates (mpg) – 22 city/32 highway/25 combined for the 8-speed sport automatic. 19 city/28 highway/22 combined for the
    6-speed manual.
  • BMW 228i Coupe: Four-cylinder engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology (twin-scroll turbocharger, High Precision Direct Injection, Valvetronic variable valve timing, Double-Vanos.
    – Capacity: 1,997 cc
    – Output: 240 hp at 5,000 – 6,500 rpm, max. torque: 258 lb-ft at 1,250 – 4,500 rpm.
    – Acceleration [0 – 60 mph]: 5.4 seconds with 8-speed sport automatic.
    – Top speed: 130 mph / 210 km/h (250 km/h / 155 mph with Sport Line or M Sport)
    – Preliminary EPA Mileage Estimates (mpg) – 23 city/35 highway/27 combined for the 8-speed sport automatic. 22 city/34 highway/26 combined for the
    6-speed manual.

Lexus, Toyota, Acura snare top spots in Consumer Reports’ 2013 reliability issue

Audi, Volvo & GMC Secure Spots in Top 10

BY GERRY MILES

In what is an annual make or break day for many automakers, Consumer Reports has released its posting of the most reliable vehicles that will be the consummate reference periodical for most car shoppers this year.

Japanese automakers Lexus, Toyota and Acura grabbed the top three spots while Volvo, GMC and Audi also broke into the top 10.

Toyota’s Camry, RAV4 and Prius V, some of the Japanese makers most popular and top-selling models didn’t make the coveted car collection because the vehicles scored poorly in an insurance industry crash test.

CR survey’s findings are based upon subscribers’ experiences with 1.1 million vehicles. Consumer Reports uses the survey data to compile reliability histories on vehicles and predict how well new cars that are currently on sale will hold up.

Audi moved up four places this year to finish fourth overall—the top European manufacturer in the survey. Three Audis, the A6 sedan, Q7 SUV and Allroad wagon, have “much better than average” reliability.
Volvo, now owned by Chinese firm Geely, jumped 13 places to seventh.
GMC emerged as the top domestic brand, finishing ninth—three places higher than last year.
The top predicted-reliability score went to the redesigned 2014 Subaru Forester SUV, which hadn’t been on the market for very long when CR conducted the survey.
Ford’s C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid got the worst score, and the regular C-Max Hybrid wasn’t much better. Only Ford’s vaunted pickup truck, the F-150, was a recommended model.
In addition to GMC, Buick climbed nine slots to 12th place over last year. All Buicks except the V-6 LaCrosse were average or better. The only dark spots for Chevrolet are the Camaro and Cruze, both of which earned below-average reliability scores.
Japanese brands took seven out of the 10 top spots in the survey. Nissan sank to 22nd among the 28 brands in the rankings. As a group, the nine Japanese brands in the survey still produce a remarkable number of reliable cars. Of the almost 100 models, 90 percent were average or better and almost a third ofthem received top marks. Ten of those highest scorers were Toyotas. Of the eight Lexus models in CR’s survey, six got top marks. All Lexus and Acura models earned an above average reliability score while all Infiniti, Mazda, and Toyota models earned an average or better reliability score.
Two popular models, the redesigned 2013 Honda Accord V6 and the 2013 Nissan Altima, scored too poorly in the survey for Consumer Reports to continue Recommending them. Last year, CR had predicted that both vehicles would have at least average reliability.
Mazda slipped from fourth to fifth. The redesigned Mazda6 debuted with above-average reliability.
Subaru and Scion, which also typically rank well in reliability, were torpedoed by their twin sports cars, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S, which scored below average. This dropped Subaru to 10th place, from last year’s fifth. Scion, for which CR had only two models with sufficient data, sank from first place to 11th this time.
One of the key problem areas in Consumer Reports’ survey centers on in-car electronics, including the proliferating suite of audio, navigation, communication, and connected systems in newer cars.
Of the 17 problem areas CR asks about, the category including in-car electronics generated more complaints from owners of 2013 models than for any other category. The survey revealed touch-screen infotainment systems have been buggy, with screen freezes, touch-control lag, or a reluctance to recognize a cell-phone, an MP3 device, or a voice command.
Hybrids and electric cars continue to do well. The Toyota Prius, Lexus ES 300h, Toyota Prius C, and Honda CR-Z hybrids, as well as the Nissan Leaf electric car, were among the top models. Ford’s C-Max and Fusion hybrids were the only exceptions.
The Tesla Model S electric car performed well enough in the survey to earn a Recommendation from CR for the first time. CR gathered data on more than 600 2012 and 2013 models. Owners of the 2012 model reported very few problems, although 2013 owners reported quite a few more. Problem areas included wind noise, squeaks and rattles, and body hardware (including the sunroof, doors, and locks).
Of the 31 Ford models in Consumer Reports’ survey, only one, the F-150 pickup with the 3.7-liter V6, was above average. Seven achieved an average score. Ford’s challenges don’t end with the historically problematic My-Touch systems. Several EcoBoost turbocharged V6 models have poor reliability as well. Almost two-thirds of the 34 Fords and Lincolns in our survey got scores that were much worse than average.
Chrysler’s bright spy was the 300 C with above average scores. Jeep’s 2014 V-6 Grand Cherokee received below average reliability.
Hyundai and Kia slipped a bit in the 2013 survey, with Kia ranking midpack and Hyundai slid to 21st place.
Complete reliability report and results for all models are available at http://www.ConsumerReports.org  and in the December issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands November 5.

Edmunds.com: Gov’t shutdown didn’t stall October auto sales

press release from edmunds.com

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — October 24, 2013 — Edmunds.com, the premier resource for car shopping and automotive information, forecasts that 1,229,860 new cars and trucks will be sold in the U.S. in October for an estimated Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate (SAAR) of 15.5 millionThe projected sales will be an 8.2 percent increase from September 2013, and a 12.7 percent increase from October 2012.

The overall sales projections suggest that the government shutdown earlier this month had minimal effect on auto sales. But, says Edmunds.com, a longer shutdown could have left an ugly mark on what has been otherwise a glowing year for the automotive industry.

“It looks like the government shutdown ended just in the nick of time,” says Edmunds.com Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. “The week-by-week data suggests that consumers started to get jittery by the middle of the month. But with the government back to work, most lost sales should be made up in the latter half of the month, and the industry’s momentum will continue the pace it enjoyed before the disruption in Washington.”

SALES VOLUME FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER

Sales Volume

Oct-13 Forecast

Oct-12

Sep-13

Change from Oct 2012*

Change from Sep 2013*

GM

215,274

195,764

187,195

10.0%

15.0%

Ford

193,988

167,947

184,452

15.5%

5.2%

Toyota

178,828

155,242

164,457

15.2%

8.7%

Chrysler Group

139,848

126,185

143,017

10.8%

-2.2%

Honda

120,484

106,973

105,563

12.6%

14.1%

Hyundai/Kia

95,786

92,723

93,105

3.3%

2.9%

Nissan

94,492

79,685

86,868

18.6%

8.8%

VW/Audi

46,798

46,019

44,985

1.7%

4.0%

Industry

1,229,860

1,091,546

1,136,218

12.7%

8.2%

*NOTE: Oct. 2013 had 27 selling days, Oct. 2012 had 26 and Sept. 2013 had 23.

Edmunds.com estimates that retail SAAR will come in at 13.0 million vehicles in October, with fleet transactions accounting for 16.0 percent of total sales. An estimated 3.06 million used cars will be sold in October, for a SAAR of 35.6 million (compared to 3.02 million – or a SAAR of 36.3 million – used car sales in September).

AUTOMAKER PERFORMANCE

While most major automakers are expected to easily clear September’s sales totals, Edmunds.com projects that Chrysler sales will fall 2.2 percent month to month. As a result, Edmunds.com expects that the company’s market share will recede 1.2 percentage points in October, just one month after it hit its highest share in over five years.

MARKET SHARE FORECAST, BY MANUFACTURER

Market Share

Oct-13 Forecast

Oct-12

Sep-13

Change from
October 2012
(Percentage pts.)

Change from September 2013
(Percentage pts.)

GM

17.5%

17.9%

16.5%

-0.4%

1.0%

Ford

15.8%

15.4%

16.2%

0.4%

-0.5%

Toyota

14.5%

14.2%

14.5%

0.3%

0.1%

Chrysler Group

11.4%

11.6%

12.6%

-0.2%

-1.2%

Honda

9.8%

9.8%

9.3%

0.0%

0.5%

Hyundai/Kia

7.8%

8.5%

8.2%

-0.7%

-0.4%

Nissan

7.7%

7.3%

7.6%

0.4%

0.0%

VW/Audi

3.8%

4.2%

4.0%

-0.4%

-0.2%

General Motors, meanwhile, is expected to create a little breathing room at the top of the sales standings. Edmunds.com projects that GM sales will increase 15 percent from September to October, outpacing top rival Ford’s growth of 5.2 percent. In September, Ford finished within almost 3,000 sales of GM’s total, and nearly claimed its first head-to-head victory since March 2011.

More insight into recent auto industry trends can be found in Edmunds.com’s Industry Center at http://www.edmunds.com/industry-center/.