Auto News: Canada lags in making light vehicles

  • The image of cars in a showroom

While overall North American new vehicle production is on the rise for the first-half of 2012, Canada is falling behind.

Led by rebounding Japanese automakers, light-vehicle production in the U.S. is up 25.9 per cent compared to the first six months of 2011. But automakers in Canada only saw an increase of 18.9 per cent, from 1.083 units to 1.288, according to DesRosiers & Associates.

In Canada, Honda led the way with a 96.9 per cent increase, while General Motors saw the lowest growth, building only 2.1 per cent more vehicles than last year.

Lexus working on small crossover

Officials at Toyota’s premium Lexus brand are finally considering the fast-growing compact crossover segment.

In a class already populated by the Acura RDX, BMW X1, Buick Encore, Mercedes-Benz GLK, Infiniti EX and Land Rover Evoque, Lexus recently told the media the brand is “testing” a Toyota RAV4-based vehicle.

Unlike the RAV4 that utilizes naturally aspirated four- and six-cylinder engines, a turbocharged four gas mill, with a gas-electric hybrid as an option, will power the Lexus version. An all-new, mid-size RX (due for 2015) may grow in size and add third-row seating to give some distance to the new, smaller Lexus.

The so-called Lexus CX is expected to launch in Europe late this year, with a North American debut one year later.

Warming up for Paris in the fall

With the Frankfurt Auto Show taking its biennial break this fall, September’s Paris event is shaping up to be the “big” show. Already, there are plenty of “official” and “unofficial” debuts.

Germany’s BMW has confirmed its first-ever front-wheel-drive car, the Mini Countryman-based 1 Series GT hatchback, will show up in Paris. A report from Autocar suggests BMW will also unveil a “concept” version of the forthcoming 3 Series GT hatchback.

India’s Jaguar and Land Rover will also be busy at the French show, revealing the Jaguar F-Type convertible sports car. Ahead of the show, Land Rover has already released images of its new flagship Range Rover SUV.

Hyundai taking aim at BMW

With the threat of Chinese automakers eventually entering the low-end of the global market, Hyundai is looking to move way up the automotive food chain.

A report in Automotive News says the Korean automaker will leapfrog the Japanese and go right at the Germans with a new BMW 3 Series fighter.

To be spun off the rear-wheel-drive Genesis Coupe platform, the internally dubbed “RK” sports sedan won’t arrive until 2015, at the earliest.

Rising Japanese prices move more Honda development to U.S.

The rising cost of vehicle production in Japan is causing Honda to give its American arm more product development responsibilities.

In the near future, Honda R&D Americas will engineer and develop the new Acura NSX sports car, the next-generation Civic compact and other models.

Erik Berkman, the new president of the vehicle-development subsidiary of Honda Motor Co., recently told the media, “Our U.S. R&D team is taking the next step in our growth towards an even larger responsibility for meeting the needs of our customers in North America.”

Post-Leaf Nissan seeks sporty return

After focusing on the launch of the electric Leaf, Japan’s Nissan is looking at a host of high-performance models.

In a report from Britain’s Auto Express, Nissan is planning a new range of Nismo-branded vehicles in addition to the existing 370Z Nismo model, starting with the Juke small crossover, the GT-R super car and eventually the Leaf EV.

“Try to think of the Nismo brand as an affordable alternative to Mercedes’ AMG division,” said Nissan’s executive vice president of product planning, Andy Palmer.

  • Auto News: Canada lags in making light vehicles

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