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Ford’s in first place at mid-year mark

Hyundai-Kia remains best-selling import as industry makes gains.

At the halfway marker in this year’s new passenger vehicle sales race, Ford Canada sits at the top in first-place.

This despite sales of 142,129 copies of its Ford and Lincoln vehicles up only 1.3 per cent compared to this time last year.

With 864,911 cars and trucks sold in Canada through the end of June, the industry gained of 7.1 per cent overall, according to analysts from DesRosiers and Associates.

Equaling the industry average increase, Chrysler Canada took second-place with sales of 129,463 Fiat, Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, and Ram vehicles.

With 117,147 Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac cars and trucks sold, General Motors’ sales were down 6.2 per cent, allowing the automaker to hang on to third-place.

Helped by its surging Kia brand’s 25.5 per cent gains over the first six months of 2011, Hyundai-Kia Motors remains the best-selling import automaker in Canada, with sales of 110,940 Hyundai and Kia cars and trucks so far in 2012.

Rounding out the top-five was Toyota Canada. It moved 98,032 examples of its Scion, Toyota, and Lexus brand vehicles.

Fuel economy top drivers’ wish lists

Fuel economy keeps popping up as the number-one priority with new car buyers. And it looks like consumers are putting their money where their mouths are.

Japan’s Mazda has announced it will double worldwide production of its fuel-efficient gas and diesel SkyActiv engines, from 400,000 to 800,000 annually.

In Canada, the only SkyActiv engine available is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder gas version, available in the Mazda3 compact and CX-5 compact crossover. But Mazda said strong demand for the new-this-year CX-5 means it would increase production of the small crossover from 200,000 to 240,000 copies a year.

Over at Ford, the Detroit Free Press reports the U.S. automaker will exceed production of its fuel-efficient EcoBoost engines by 100,000 units, to 1.6 million a year.

A pair of four-cylinder EcoBoost engines (that feature smaller displacement engines with direct-injection and turbocharging), a 2.0 L for the Taurus full-size sedan and a 1.0 L for the Fiesta subcompact and Focus compact, will arrive for 2013.

Generation Y not becoming drivers

For many post-Second World War Baby Boomers, being a grown up meant getting your driver’s licence. But for many of their children — known as Generation Y — driving a car has become more of a hassle than a rite of passage.

A U.S. National Household Travel Survey found Gen Yers (those born between the later-1970s to the mid-2000s) tend to ride bicycles, take public transit, and rely on virtual media instead of driving a car.

More than a quarter of this age group doesn’t have a driver’s license, up 5 per cent from 2000.

Analysts suggest reasons for this trend include the high cost of owning, maintaining, insuring, and fuelling a car, and the convenience of electronic communication.

Mercedes-Benz redefines “shooting-brake”

Car geeks will know the “shooting-brake” body style originated in the early 19th Century as a vehicle used to transport British hunting parties. And more recently, applied to vehicles combining coupe and wagon bodies, such as the 1970s Volvo P1800 ES.

Germany’s new 2013 CLS Shooting Brake not only ignores the traditional spelling, but as a wagon version of the CLS four-door coupe, it redefines the shooting-brake term.

First seen at the 2010 Beijing Auto Show as a concept, the new CLS Shooting Brake fills the wafer-thin slot in ’Benz’s lineup between the truncated CLS and the E-Class Wagon.

Although there are a variety of gas and diesel engine choices for Europe, the new model will more than likely use the $84,500-$109,900 CLS four-door’s 402 and 518 horsepower V8 engines, if or when it comes to Canada.

Audi ready to roll out even more Q cars

New car buyers are not only demanding more fuel-efficient engines, they are also looking for more crossovers. And it looks like Germany’s Audi is getting ready to meet that demand.

In an article from the U.K.’s Car magazine, Audi is readying no less than five new Q-badged crossovers.

In addition to the existing compact Q3 (not sold in Canada), mid-size Q5, and full-size Q7 Audis, a Q2, Q4, Q6, and Q8 are in the works.

Going forward, odd-numbered Q models (Q3, Q5, Q7) will continue to be SUV-like. While even-numbered models will offer less rear-cargo room, and a more road-oriented driving experience.

Details of “Cadillac Volt” emerging

First seen as the Converj concept at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show, Cadillac is working on making the production version, now dubbed the ELR, more than a re-skinned Chevrolet Volt hybrid.

More sound deadening and use of lightweight materials, and using a 1.8-litre version of a new Opel-developed family of four-cylinders over the Volt’s 1.4 L four to improve fuel economy once the batteries are depleted, are just some of the changes Cadillac is working on, according to a Car and Driver article.

  • Ford’s in first place at mid-year mark

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